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PLANTATION SKETCHES 




MAMMY 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 



BY 



MARGARET DEVEREUX 




PRIVATELY PRINTED AT 

CI)e KiberfiiUe press, CarabriUffe 

MDCCCCVI 



COPYRIGHT 1906 BY MARGARET DEVEREUX 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



EDITOR'S PREFACE 

The descriptions of Southern life in this 
little book, as well as the accompanying 
stories, were written by Mrs. Devereux 
during the past fifteen years, in large part 
after she had passed her sixty-fifth year. 
They are essentially reminiscent, and were 
prepared originally with no thought of 
publication, but merely to be read to her 
grandchildren, so that there might be pre- 
served in their minds some conception of 
the old-time lives of their grandparents. 
The sketches thus came to be read by me 
to my own children, who are of the third 
generation. They brought to my mind so 
simply, yet so vividly and in so attractive a 
manner, a picture of the old plantation life, 
they showed such remarkable memory of 
interesting details, that they seemed to me 



li^lHS 



EDITOR'S PREFACE 

to merit publication. The charm of the 
descriptions will impress all readers, and 
the truthfulness of the illustrations of negro 
character and habits will be recognized by 
all who are familiar with the South. The 
sketches are simple, homely little tales pre- 
pared for children, and they must be read 
with this fact in mind; but they have 
nevertheless an interest and a lesson for 
maturer readers, to whom they are now 

offered. 

Arthur Winslow 

1 8 Chestnut St., Boston, Mass. 
April 27, 1906 



Letter to my Grandchildren 


ix 


Pla7itation Life 


I 


Going to the Plantation 


40 


My Ow7z Early Home 


52 


Two Bob Whites 


59 


Little Dave 


74 


The Hog-Feeders Day 


85 


The Junior Reserve 


113 


Mammy 


119 


War Reminiscences 


150 



TO MY GRANDCHILDREN 

As the *' New South," with all its changes and 
improvements, rises above the horizon, those 
whose hearts still cling to the ** Old South " look 
sadly backward and sigh to see it fade away into 
dimness, to be soon lost to sight and to live only 
in the memory of the few. Hoping to rescue 
froni oblivion a few of the habits, thoughts, and 
feelings of the people who made our South what 
it was, I have drawn from memory a few pen 
sketches of plantation life, based upon actual 
events, in which are recorded some of the good 
and even noble traits of character which were 
brought forth under the yoke of slavery. 

For you, my dear grandchildren, I have tried 
to fix, before they fade entirely, these already 
faint reflections from the "light of other days." 

Margaret Devereux. 

Raleigh, North Carolina, 
December, 1905. 




PLANTATION LIFE 

AM going to try to describe to 
you something of the lives and 
homes of your dear grandfather 
and of your great-grandfather, 
because I want you to know something of 
them, because their mode of Hfe was one 
of which scarcely a vestige is left now, and 
because, finally, I don't want you to be led 
into the misconception held by some that 
Southern planters and slaveholders were 
cruel despots, and that the life of the negro 
slaves on the plantation was one of misery 
and sorrow. 

Before I enter upon my brief narrative I 
want you to realize that it is all strictly true, 
being based upon my knowledge of facts ; 
very simple and homely in its details, but 
with the merit of entire truthfulness. 

Your great-grandfather, Thomas Pollock 
Devereux, and your grandfather, John 
Devereux, were planters upon an unusually 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

large scale in North Carolina; together 
they owned eight large plantations and be- 
tween fifteen and sixteen hundred negroes. 
Their lands, situated in the rich river bot- 
toms of Halifax and Bertie counties, were 
very fertile, the sale crops being corn, cot- 
ton, and droves of hogs, which were sent to 
Southampton county, Virginia, for sale. 

The names of your great-grandfather's 
plantations were Conacanarra, Feltons, 
Looking Glass, Montrose, Polenta, and 
Barrows, besides a large body of land in 
the counties of Jones and Hyde. His resi- 
dence was at Conacanarra, where the dwell- 
ing stood upon a bluff commanding a fine 
view of the Roanoke river, and, with the 
pretty house of the head overseer, the small 
church, and other minor buildings, looked 
like a small village beneath the great elms 
and oaks. 

Your grandfather's principal plantation, 
and our winter home, was Runiroi, in 
Bertie county. The others were " The 
Lower Plantation" and " Over the Swamp." 
At Runiroi we lived and called ourselves 
at home, and of it I have preserved the clear- 



PLANTATION LIFE 

est recollection and the fondest memo- 
ries. 

From Kehukee bluff, which we usually 
visited while waiting for the ferryman on 
our return journey after the summer's ab- 
sence, the plantation could be seen stretch- 
ing away into the distance, hemmed in by 
the flat-topped cypresses. From there we 
had a view of our distant dwelling, gleaming 
white in the sunlight and standing in a 
green oasis of trees and grass, all looking 
wonderfully small amid the expanse of flat 
fields around it. Apart as I now am from 
the restless, never-ending push of life, when 
neither men nor women have time for lei- 
sure, when even pleasure and amusement 
are reduced to a business calculation as to 
how much may be squeezed into a given 
time, I think it might perhaps calm down 
some of the nervous restlessness that I per- 
ceive in my dear children and grandchil- 
dren if they could, for once, stand there in 
the soft November sunshine. The splendor 
of the light is veiled in a golden haze, the 
brown fields bask in the soft radiance and 
seem to quiver in the heat, while the cease- 
3 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

less murmur of the great river is like a 
cradle song to a sleepy child ; the rattle of 
the old ferryman's chain and the drowsy 
squeak of his long sweeps seem even to 
augment the stillness. The trees along the 
banks appear to lack the energy to hang 
out the brilliant reds and purples of autumn, 
but tint their leaves with the soft shades of 
palest yellow, and these keep dropping and 
floating away, while the long gray moss 
waves dreamily in the stillness. 

The house at Runiroi was a comfortable, 
old, rambling structure, in a green yard and 
flower garden, not ugly, but quite innocent 
of any pretensions at comeliness. Neither 
was there, to many, a bit of picturesque 
beauty in the flat surroundings; and yet 
this very flatness did lend a charm peculiar 
to -itself. My eyes ever found a delight in 
its purple distances and in the great, broad- 
armed trees marking the graceful curves of 
the river. The approach from the public 
road, which followed the bank of the river, 
was through the " willow lane," between 
deep-cut ditches, which kept the roadway 
well drained unless the river overspread 
4 



PLANTATION LIFE 

its banks, when the lane was often impass- 
able for days. In the springtime, when the 
tender green boughs of the willows were 
swayed by the breeze, it was a lovely spot, 
and a favorite resort of the children. 

I was so young a bride, only seventeen, 
when I was taken to our winter home, and 
so inexperienced, that I felt no dread what- 
ever of my new duties as mistress. The 
household comforts of my childhood's home 
had seemed to come so spontaneously that 
I never thought oi processes, and naturally 
felt rather nonplussed when brought into 
contact with realities. The place had for 
years been merely a sort of camping-out 
place for your great-grandfather, who liked 
to spend a part of the winter there ; so the 
house was given over to servants, who made 
him comfortable, but who took little heed of 
anything else. 

I recollect my antipathy to a certain old 
press which stood in the back hall. The 
upper part was filled with books. In the 
under cupboard, Minerva kept pies, ginger- 
bread, plates of butter, etc. The outside 
looked very dim and dusty. I could not 
5 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

bear to look at it, but knew not how to 
remedy its defects. I know now that it was 
a handsome old piece, which a furniture- 
lover would delight in. However, my youth- 
ful appetite did not scorn Minerva's ginger- 
bread, and, as I had many lonely hours to 
get through with as best I could, I would 
mount the highest chair that I could find, 
and ransack the old musty volumes in 
search of amusement. The collection con- 
sisted chiefly of antiquated medical works, 
some tracts, etc., but once, to my delight, I 
unearthed two of Mrs. Radcliffe's novels, 
which were indeed a treasure trove ; one of 
them was " Gaston de Blondeville," which I 
thought beautiful. I have regretted that I 
did not take care of it, for I have never seen 
another copy. 

Minerva was a woman of pretty good 
sense, but of slatternly habits. She had 
been so long without a lady to guide her 
that her original training was either forgot- 
ten or entirely disregarded. Once, when 
starting to Conacanarra for Christmas, I 
charged her to take advantage of the fine 
weather to give the passage floors a thorough 
6 



PLANTATION LIFE 

scrubbing; they were bare and showed every 
footprint of black mud from the outside. 
When it came time to return, in spite of our 
pleasant Christmas week, we were glad to 
think of our own home and were rather 
dismayed when the morning fixed for our 
departure broke dark and very cold, with 
little spits of snow beginning to fall. I was 
much afraid that we should be compelled 
to yield to the hospitable objections to our 
going, but at last we succeeded in getting 
off. We crossed at Pollock's (your great- 
grandfather's ferry), so that should the storm 
increase we need not leave our comfortable 
carriage until we should be at home. It 
was a lonely drive; the snow fell steadily 
but so gently that I enjoyed seeing the 
earth and the trees, the fences and the few 
lonely houses that we passed all draped in 
white; though we were warmly wrapped, 
the anticipation of the crackling fires in our 
great old fireplaces was delightful. When 
we got home, the first sound that greeted 
our ears, as we stepped upon the piazza, 
was a mournful, long-drawn hymn. Shiver- 
ing and damp from our walk up the yard, 
7 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

we opened the door, to see Minerva, with 
kilted skirts, standing in an expanse of 
frozen slush and singing at the top of her 
voice, while she sluiced fresh deluges of 
water from her shuck brush. I was too 
disgusted for words, but resolved that this 
should not occur again. As soon as I could 
communicate with the outside world I had 
the hall floors covered with oilcloth (then 
the fashionable covering). Also, Minerva 
was displaced, and Phyllis reigned in her 
stead, but Minerva, nevertheless, always in- 
dulged in the belief that she was indis- 
pensable to our happiness and comfort. 

In honor of my advent as mistress, the 
floors had been freshly carpeted with very 
pretty bright carpets, which were in danger 
of being utterly ruined by the muddy shoes 
of the raw plantation servants, recently 
brought in to be trained for the house. 
Although the soil generally was a soft, 
sandy loam, I observed in my horseback 
rides numbers of round stones scattered 
about in the fields. They were curious 
stones, and looked perfectly accidental and 
quite out of place. Their presence excited 
8 



PLANTATION LIFE 

my interest, and aroused my curiosity as 
to their origin, which has never been grati- 
fied. They seemed so out of place in those 
flat fields! However, I determined to utilize 
them and had a number collected and 
brought into the yard, and with them I had 
a pretty paved walk made from the house 
to the kitchen. 

Our house stood upon what was known 
as the " Second Land," which meant a 
slight rise above the wide, low grounds, 
which were formerly, I believe, the bed of 
the sluo[g:ish stream now known as the 
Roanoke. All along the edge of these Sec- 
ond Lands, just where they joined the low 
grounds, there was a bed of beautiful small 
gravel. I was delighted when I discovered 
this and at once interested myself in having 
a gravel walk made up to the front of the 
house, and this was, when completed, all 
that I had hoped, and served as a perfect 
protection against the offending mud. 

There was one evil, though, which I 

could not guard against, and this was the 

clumsy though well-meaning stupidity of a 

plantation negro. One afternoon the house 

9 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

became offensive with the odor of burning 
wool. I followed up the scent and, after 
opening several doors, I finally traced it to 
the dining-room. It was filled with smoke, 
and there, in front of an enormous fire, 
squatted Abby. In a fit of most unaccount- 
able industry she had undertaken to clean 
the brass andirons, and had drawn them red 
hot from the fire and placed them upon the 
carpet. Of course, four great holes were the 
result and, as the carpets had been made in 
New York, there were no pieces with which 
the holes could be mended. As I had al- 
ready decided her to be too stupid to be 
worth the trouble of training, I felt no de- 
sire to find fault with her, so I merely told 
her to put them back, or rather stood by to 
see it done. I did not keep her in the house 
after that, but do not suppose that she ever 
at all realized the mischief that she had 
done. 

One of my amusements was to watch the 
birds ; they were so numerous, and appeared 
to be so tame. I set traps for them. This 
was childish, but I was very young and 
often rather at a loss to find something to 

10 



PLANTATION LIFE 

do; so I used to take with me my small 
house boy, " Minor," whom I was training 
to be a grand butler; he would carry the 
trap and, after it had been set and baited, I 
would make him guide me to the trees where 
the sweetest persimmons grew; there I 
would while away the morning and on the 
next we would find one or more birds flut- 
tering in the trap, which, to Minor's silent 
disgust, I would set free. 

The squirrels, too, were a pleasure to me 
in my horseback rides toward Vine Ridge, 
especially. Your grandfather and I would 
pause to watch them playing hide and seek 
just like children, scampering round and 
round, their pretty gray tails waving, until 
some noise would send them out of sight, 
and the silent forest would seem as if no 
living thing were near. It was upon one of 
these rides that your grandfather told me 
how, when he was about twelve years old, 
and spending his Christmas holidays at 
Runiroi with his grandfather, he once said 
that he could shoot one hundred squirrels 
between sunrise and sunset. His uncle, 
George Pollock Devereux, happened to 
II 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

hear him and rebuked him sharply for so 
idle a boast, and when your dear grand- 
father manfully stood his ground, saying 
that it was not an idle boast, his uncle called 
him a vain braggart, which so offended 
your grandfather that he told his uncle that 
he would prove the truth of his assertion. 
And so, upon the following morning, he rose 
early and was at Vine Ridge gun in hand, 
ready to make his first shot, as soon as the 
sun should appear. The squirrels were very 
numerous at first, and he made great havoc 
among them. Many a mile he tramped that 
day, scanning with eager eyes the trees 
above him, in search of the little gray noses, 
hidden behind the branches, and thus it 
happened that he got many a fall and tum- 
ble among the cypress knees; but what 
did that matter to his young limbs? he had 
only to pick himself up again and tramp on. 
As the day advanced, fewer little bright 
eyes peeped from the tree-tops and his 
number was not made up ; he was getting 
tired too, and very hungry, for he had eaten 
nothing since his early breakfast. He stum- 
bled wearily on, however, determined not 

12 



PLANTATION LIFE 

to fall, for he dreaded his uncle's triumphant 
sarcasm should he do so. A few more shots 
brought his number to ninety-nine, but 
where was the one-hundredth to be found ? 
The sun was sinking to the horizon ; he had 
come out from the swamp and was tramp- 
ing homeward; the gun, so light in the 
morning, now weighed like lead upon his 
shoulder. As he looked into every tree for 
that hundredth squirrel which could not be 
found, the sun's disk was resting upon the 
horizon when he turned into the willow 
lane leading to the house. Just at the en- 
trance there stood a great chestnut oak. 
This was his last chance. He paused to 
take one hopeless look, when, to his un- 
speakable joy, he beheld a fox squirrel seated 
up among the branches. Now he knew that 
the fox squirrel was the slyest, as well as the 
shyest of all his kind; no creature so expert 
as he in slipping out of range ; there would 
be no chance for a second shot, for now only 
a rim of the sun was left. With a wildly beat- 
ing heart he raised his gun, took time to aim 
well, — fired, — and down came his hun- 
dredth squirrel. His wager was won; fatigue 
13 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

and hunger all gone, he hastened gaylyhome 
and with pride emptied his bag before his 
uncle and his delighted old grandfather, who 
loved him above everything, and who finally 
made him his heir, so that your grandfather 
was quite independent of his own father. 

When I first became acquainted with the 
plantation, the sale crop was taken down to 
Plymouth in a g^eat old scow, but this was 
afterward superseded by the introduction of 
freight steamers, which took the produce 
direct to Norfolk. These steamers proved 
to be a great comfort and convenience to 
us. By them we might receive anything 
that we desired from Norfolk, of which 
the things most enjoyed were packages of 
books, — Vickry and Grififiths, booksellers, 
having standing orders to send at their dis- 
cretion what they thought desirable, besides 
the special orders for what we wished to 
see. 

The advent of a steamer at the landing 
would cause much pleasurable excitement. 
If anything of special interest was expected, 
the first puff of steam from down the river 
would be eagerly examined through the spy- 
14 



PLANTATION LIFE 

glass. Then would follow several days of 
busy life down at the different barns, from 
which the corn was to be shipped. Before 
the introduction of the corn-sheller, the corn 
was beaten from the cob by men wielding 
great sticks, or flails ; others raked the grain 
into an immense pile; from this pile it was 
measured by select hands and put into bags, 
which were carried to the steamer lying 
at the landing. The men who measured 
and kept the tally maintained a constant 
song or chant, and designated the tally, or 
fifth bushel, by a sort of yell. The overseer 
stood by with pencil and book and scored 
down each tally by a peculiar mark. The 
constant stream of men running back and 
forth, with bags empty or full, made a very 
busy scene. 

After the corn had been shipped, the 
boat had steamed down the river, and the 
place, lately so full of busy life, had returned 
to its accustomed quiet seclusion, the red- 
birds came to peck up the corn left upon 
the ground. I remember how once, upon a 
cold, gray afternoon, I put on my wraps and 
ran down to the Sycamore Barn, on purpose 
15 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

to watch the shy, beautiful things. Snow- 
flakes were beginning to fall and whisper 
about the great bamboo vines; twisted 
around the trees upon the river banks, the 
long gray moss hung motionless and a 
thick grayness seemed to shut out the whole 
world ; all about me was gray, — earth, sky, 
trees, barn, everything, except the redbirds 
and the red berries of a great holly tree 
under whose shelter I stood, listening to 
the whispering snowflakes. 

The Sycamore Barn derived its name from 
a great sycamore tree near which it stood. 
This tree was by far the largest that I ever 
saw ; a wagon with a four-horse team might 
be on one side, and quite concealed from 
any one standing upon the other. When 
I knew it, it was a ruin, the great trunk 
a mere shell, though the two giant forks, 
— themselves immense in girth — still had 
life in them. In one side of the trunk was 
an opening, about as large as an ordinary 
door ; through this we used to enter, and I 
have danced a quadrille of eight within 
with perfect ease. 

This tree gave its name to the field in 
i6 



PLANTATION LIFE 

which it grew, which formed part of the 
tract known as the Silver Wedge. It was 
about the Silver Wedge that an acrimo- 
nious lawsuit was carried on during the 
lives of your great-great-grandparents, John 
and Frances Devereux. She was a Pollock, 
and the dispute arose through a Mr. Wil- 
liams, the son or grandson of a certain 
Widow Pollock, who had, after the death of 
her first husband, Major Pollock, married a 
Mr. Williams. She may possibly have dow- 
ered in this Silver Wedge tract. At any rate, 
her Williams descendants set up a claim to it, 
although it was in possession of the real Pol- 
lock descendant, Frances Devereux. It was 
a large body of very rich land, and inter- 
sected the plantation in the form of a wedge, 
beginning near the Sycamore Barn, and run- 
ning up far into the Second Lands, widen- 
ing and embracing the dwelling-house and 
plantation buildings. I have heard your 
great-great-grandfather laugh and tell how 
Williams once came to the house, and, with 
a sweeping bow and great assumption 
of courtesy, made your great-great-grand- 
mother welcome to remain in his house. 
17 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

After the suit had been settled, Williams 
had occasion to come again to the house, 
feeling, no doubt, rather crestfallen. Mrs. 
Devereux met him at the door and, making 
him a sweeping curtsy, quoted his exact 
words, making him welcome to her house. 

One of my pleasant memories is con- 
nected with our fishing porch. This was a 
porch, or balcony, built upon piles driven 
into the river upon one side, and the other 
resting upon the banks. It was raised some 
eight or ten feet above the water and pro- 
tected by a strong railing or balustrade and 
shaded by the overhanging branches of a 
large and beautiful hackberry tree. It made 
an ideal lounging-place, upon a soft spring 
afternoon, when all the river banks were a 
mass of tender green, and the soft cooing of 
doves filled the air. We usually took Minor 
with us to bait our hooks and assist gener- 
ally, and often went home by starlight with 
a glorious string of fish. 

The drawback to the plantations upon 

the lower Roanoke lay in their liability to 

being flooded by the freshets to which the 

Roanoke was exposed. These were espe- 

i8 



PLANTATION LIFE 

cially to be dreaded in early spring, when 
the snow in the mountains was melting. I 
have known freshets in March to inundate 
the country for miles. At one time there 
was not a foot of dry land upon one of the 
Runlroi plantations. It was upon a mild 
night in that month that I sat upon the porch 
nearly all through the night, feeling too 
anxious to sleep, for your grandfather, the 
overseer, and every man on the plantation 
were at the river, working upon the em- 
bankments. The back waters from the 
swamp had already spread over everything. 
This gentle and slow submersion did no 
great damage, when there was no growing 
crop to be injured ; the thing to be guarded 
against was the breaking of the river dam 
and the consequent rushing in of such a 
flood as would wash the land into enormous 
holes, or " breakovers," of several acres in 
extent in some places, or make great sand 
ledges in others, to say nothing of the de- 
struction of fences, the drowning of stock, 
etc. On the night that I speak of, the moon 
was at its full and glittered upon the water, 
rippling all around where dry land should 
19 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

have been. I sat listening anxiously and 
occasionally shuddering at a sharp cracking 
noise, like a pistol shot, and, following upon 
it, the rushing of water into some plantation 
up the river. Once in the night I heard a 
noise and, upon my calling to know who it 
was, a man replied that they had come up in 
a canoe to get some water. I could not help 
laughing; it struck me that water was rather 
too plentiful just then. They worked upon 
the dam until there was no more material 
to work with, water being level with the top 
on both sides and only a foot of standing- 
room at the top, so, having done all that 
they could, all hands took to canoes and 
went to their homes. That " March freshet " 
did incalculable damage to the whole region, 
but still fine crops were made that season. 
Your grandfather was indefatigable while 
anything could be done, but, having done 
all that human energy could, he would re- 
sign himself cheerfully to the inevitable, and 
his family never were saddened by depres- 
sion on his part. This wonderful elasticity 
was most noticeable at the fearful period of 
the surrender and, indeed, through all the 

20 



PLANTATION LIFE 

succeeding years, when this power of his, 
despite all of our losses and anxieties, made 
our life one of great happiness. 

When, during the winter months, a mod- 
erate freshet meant nothing more serious 
than the flooding of the low grounds, it was 
considered rather a benefit, owing to the 
rich deposit left upon the land, besides the 
advantages gained in floating out lumber 
from the swamps. This March freshet 
caused great pecuniary loss; new dams had 
to be constructed at a heavy expense, and 
many miles of repairing had to be done to 
those left standing. The few days before 
the water had reached its height were most 
trying to the nerves (that is, my nerves). I 
believe my fears culminated upon the night 
that I saw the water rippling over our own 
doorstep and realized that there was not a 
foot of dry land visible for miles; by morn- 
ing, though, the river was " at a stand," and 
by evening little spots of green were show- 
ing themselves in the yard and garden. 

The word garden recalls to my memory 
our pretty garden, a most beautiful contin- 
uation of the smooth green yard, its many 

21 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

alleys bordered with flowers and flowering 
shrubs. It was, I own, laid out in a stiff, 
old-fashioned manner, very different from 
the present and far more picturesque style ; 
still, it was charming, — the profusion of 
flowers, fed by that wonderful river loam, 
exceeded anything that I have ever seen 
elsewhere. In the springtime, what with 
the flowers, the beautiful butterflies, and the 
humming-birds, the sunny air would actu- 
ally seem to quiver with color and life. 

Every plantation had a set of buildings 
which included generally the overseer's 
house, ginhouse, screw, barn, stable, pork- 
house, smokehouse, storehouse, carpenter's 
shop, blacksmith shop, and loomhouse, 
where the material for clothing for each 
plantation was woven, — white cloth for 
the underclothes, and very pretty striped or 
checked for outer garments. At Runiroi, 
the weaver, Scip, was a first-class workman, 
and very proud of his work. I often had 
sets of very pretty towels woven in a damask 
pattern of mixed flax and cotton. The win- 
ter clothing was of wool, taken from our 
own sheep. 

22 



PLANTATION LIFE 

The carpenters at Runiroi were Jim, the 
head carpenter, Austin, and Bill, who were 
all good workmen. Frank, " Boat Frank," 
as he was called, from having formerly 
served as captain of the old flat-bottomed 
scow which carried the sale crop to Plym- 
outh, was also in the shop and did beauti- 
ful work. I was fond of visiting Jim's shop 
and ordering all sorts of wooden ware, pails, 
piggins, trays, etc. ; these last, dug out of 
bowl-gum, were so white that they looked 
like ivory. Boat Frank was very proud of 
the smoothness and polish of his trays. Our 
children, with their mammy, were fond of 
visiting " Uncle Jim's " shop and playing 
with such tools as he considered safe for 
them to handle, while Mammy, seated upon 
a box by the small fire, would indulge in 
long talks about religion or plantation gos- 
sip. That shop was indeed a typical spot ; 
its sides were lined to the eaves with choice 
lumber, arranged systematically so that the 
green was out of reach, while that which 
was seasoned was close at hand. Uncle 
Jim would have felt disgraced had a piece 
of work made of unseasoned wood left his 
23 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

shop. The smoke from the small fire which 
burned in the middle of the big shop, upon 
the dirt floor, escaped in faint blue wreaths 
through the roof, leaving behind it a sweet, 
pungent odor. The sun streamed in at the 
wide-open door, while Jim and Frank tin- 
kered away leisurely upon plough handles 
and other implements or household articles. 

Uncle Jim was a preacher as well as a 
carpenter. He was quite superior to most 
of his race, both in sense and principle 
and was highly thought of by both white and 
black. Upon two Sundays in each month 
he preached in the church and his ser- 
mons were quite remarkable, teaching in 
his homely way the necessity of honesty 
and obedience. His companion in the shop, 
Boat Frank, was of a more worldly nature, 
and wore great golden hoops in his ears 
and a red woolen cap upon his head, and 
resembled an elderly and crafty ape, as he 
sat chipping away at his work. 

Next came the blacksmith shop, where 
Bob wielded the great hammer and grinned 
with childish delight at seeing the children's 
enjoyment when the sparks flew. 
24 



PLANTATION LIFE 

After the blacksmith's shop came the 
loomhouse, where Scip, the little fat weaver, 
threw the shuttles and beat up the home- 
spun cloth from morning till night ; there, 
too, were the warping-bars, the winding- 
blades, and the little quilling-wheel, at which 
a boy or girl would fill the quills to be in 
readiness for the shuttles. Scip was an odd 
figure, with his short legs, and his woolly 
hair combed out until his head looked as 
big as a bushel. 

The dwellings of the negroes were quite 
a distance from the " Great House," as that 
of the master was called, and were built in 
two or more long rows with a street between. 
This was the plan upon every plantation. 
Each house had a front and back piazza, 
and a garden, which was cultivated or 
allowed to run wild according to the thrift 
of the residents. It generally was stocked 
with peach and apple trees, and presented 
a pretty picture in spring, when the blue 
smoke from the houses curled up to the sky 
amid the pink blossoms, while the drowsy 
hum of a spinning-wheel seemed to enhance 
the quiet of the peaceful surroundings. 
25 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

The church at Runiroi was large and 
comfortably furnished with seats ; colored 
texts were upon the walls, and the bell, 
which summoned the people on Sunday- 
mornings, swung amid the branches of a 
giant oak. Both your great-grandfather 
and grandfather employed a chaplain. At 
Runiroi, he officiated only upon alternate 
Sundays, as the people liked best to listen 
to Carpenter Jim. It used to be a pretty 
sight upon a Sunday morning to see the 
people, all dressed in their clean homespun 
clothes, trooping to church, laughing and 
chattering until they reached the door, when 
they immediately would assume the deep- 
est gravity and proceed at once to groan 
and shake themselves more and more at 
every prayer. The singing would often 
sound very sweet at a distance, although 
I must confess that I never sympathized in 
the admiration of the negro's voice. 

Of course, like all other laboring classes, 
the negroes had to work, and of course, as 
they had not the incentive of poverty, dis- 
cipline was necessary. They knew that 
they would be housed, clothed and well fed 
26 



PLANTATION LIFE 

whether they earned these comforts or not ; 
so, in order to insure dihgence, reliable men 
were chosen from among them as assistants 
to the white overseers; these were called 
"foremen," and were looked up to with 
respect by their fellows. Upon every large 
plantation there was also a Foreman 
Plower, his business being to take the 
lead and see that the plowing was well 
done and that the plow horses were not 
maltreated. With the settled men this was 
unnecessary, but it was very needful with 
the younger hands. These colored foremen 
were, in their turn, subject to the overseers, 
who, in turn, if not found to be temperate 
and reliable, were dismissed. Upon well- 
ordered plantations punishments were rare, 
I may say unknown, except to the halfgrown 
youths. Negroes, being somewhat lacking 
in moral sense or fixed principles, are singu- 
larly open to the influence of example; and 
thus it was that a few well-ordered elders 
would give a tone to the whole plantation, 
while the evil influences of one ill-disposed 
character would be equally pronounced. 
The plantations of which I am speaking 
27 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

were singularly remote, being so surrounded 
by other large plantations that they were 
exempt from all outside and pernicious in- 
fluences. The one or two country stores 
*at which the negroes traded might have 
furnished whiskey, had not those who kept 
them stood too much in awe of the plant- 
ers to incur the risk of their displeasure. 
As the town of Halifax could boast of sev- 
eral little stores, and was the trading post 
of Feltons, Conacanara, and Montrose, your 
great-grandfather, in order to prevent the 
evils of promiscuous trading, caused certain 
coins to be struck off, of no value except to 
the one merchant with whom his people 
were allowed to trade. 

Perhaps you will be surprised to know 
how important to the country merchants 
was the trade of a plantation, so I will ex- 
plain to you of what it consisted. Of course, 
a few of the careless, content with the abun- 
dance provided for them, did not care to 
accumulate, while others, naturally thrifty, 
amassed a good deal from the sale of otter, 
coon, mink, and other skins of animals 
trapped. Then, some owned as many as 
28 



PLANTATION LIFE 

thirty beehives. One old woman, known 
as " Honey Beck," once hauled thirty or 
more gallons of honey to Halifax and back 
again, the whole distance (twenty-five miles), 
rather than take a low price for it. Besides 
skins, honey, and beeswax, eggs and poultry 
were always salable. One of my necessi- 
ties in housekeeping was a bag of small 
change, and, as I never refused to take what 
was brought to me, my pantry was often so 
overstocked with eggs and my coops with 
ducks and chickens, that it was a hard mat- 
ter to know how to consume them. 

The beautiful white shad, now so highly 
prized in our markets, were then a drug. 
It was the prettiest sight in the early dawn 
of a spring morning to see the fishermen 
skimming down the broad river with their 
dip-nets poised for a catch. My opportuni- 
ties for seeing them at that early hour were 
from my bedroom window, when I hap- 
pened to be visiting the family at Conaca- 
nara. Our home at Runiroi stood some dis- 
tance from the river, but the dwelling at 
Conacanara was upon a bluff just over the 
stream. 

29 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

Beside the sale crops of cotton and corn, 
sweet potatoes were raised in large quanti- 
ties for the negroes, to which they w^ere al- 
lowed to help themselves without stint, also 
a summer patch of coarse vegetables such 
as they liked. 

The regular food furnished consisted of 
corn meal, bacon or pickled pork, varied 
with beef in the autumn, when the beeves 
were fat, salt fish with less meat when de- 
sired, molasses, dried peas and pumpkins 
without stint (I mean the peas and pump- 
kins). I don't suppose any laboring class 
ever lived in such plenty. 

A woman with a family of children al- 
ways had the use of a cow, the only proviso 
being that she should look after the calf 
and see that it did not suffer, for your 
grandfather was particular about his ox 
teams; they were the finest that I ever saw, 
and were well blooded, — Holstein for size 
and Devon for speed and activity. 

Our dairy was very pretty; it was built of 

immense square logs, with a paved brick 

floor, and great broad shelves all around. 

The roof was shaded by hackberry trees, 

30 



PLANTATION LIFE 

and the grass around it was like velvet, so 
thick and green. Old Aunt Betty, who was 
the dairy woman until she grew too infirm, 
was the neatest creature imaginable; she 
wore the highest of turbans, and her clothes 
were spotless. She took the greatest pride 
in her dairy; for milk vessels she used great 
calibashes with wooden covers, and, as they 
naturally were absorbent, it was necessary 
to sun one set while another was in use. 
She kept them beautifully, and the milk 
and butter were delicious. 

There was a man upon the plantation 
called " Shoe Joe," or " Gentleman Joe." He 
had, when a young man, been body-servant 
to his young master George, your great- 
grandfather's brother. I never in my life 
have seen finer manners than Joe's, so 
deeply respectful, and so full of courtesy. 
Notwithstanding his really fine deportment, 
Joe's nature was low and mean, and some- 
thing that he did so offended his young 
master that, to Joe's great disgust, he was 
remanded back to the plantation and field 
work. In consequence of this, he always bore 
his young master a grudge, which, of course, 
31 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

he kept to himself. Once, however, he made 
some disrespectful speech before old Betty, 
who was devoted to her Master George, and 
this so offended her that she never again 
spoke to Joe, nor allowed him to make her 
shoes, though this last was more from fear 
than vindictiveness. For Shoe Joe was sus- 
pected of being a trick negro, and of pos- 
sessing the power so to trick his work as 
to cause the death of any one wearing his 
products. Nothing was productive of more 
evil upon a plantation than was the exist- 
ence upon it of a " Trick " or " Goomer " 
negro; and so insidious was their influence, 
and so secret their machinations, that, 
though suspected, it was impossible to prove 
anything, for, although detested by their 
fellows, fear kept the latter silent. Nothing 
would cause such abject terror as the dis- 
covery of an odd-looking bundle, wrapped 
and wrapped with strands of horse-hair, 
secreted beneath the steps, or laid in an 
accustomed path. Instantly after such a 
discovery the person for whom it was meant 
would begin to pine away, and, unless some 
counter spell were discovered, death would 
32 



PLANTATION LIFE 

ensue. These occurrences, fortunately, were 
rare, but if the thing once took root upon 
a plantation, it wrought much evil in vari- 
ous ways. Joe was suspected of these evil 
practices, and, though a wonderfully capa- 
ble man at all kinds of work, and a most 
accomplished courtier, was always looked 
upon with suspicion. His death was sud- 
den, and the people firmly believed that he 
had made a compact with the devil, that the 
term had expired, and that Satan had met 
him in the woods and broken his neck. He 
was a tall, finely formed man, as black as 
ebony, and his movements always reminded 
me of a serpent. 

Negroes, even in these days of school 
education, retain many of theirsuperstitions, 
though ashamed to own it. One of their 
beliefs was that the word you meant the 
devil's wife, and it was insulting to address 
any one by that word. To one another it 
was always yijina. So marked was this 
custom that the negroes of that section were 
known as the yinna negroes. This word, 
though, was never used toward their supe- 
riors, who were invariably addressed in the 
33 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

third person. Manuel was rather a common 
name among them; there were always two 
or three Manuels upon every plantation, and 
one was always called " Hoodie Manuel." 
No one could ever discover what this meant; 
perhaps they did not know themselves, 
though I am rather inclined to think that 
it was a superstitious observance, under- 
stood, perhaps, only by a select few. I think 
it must have had some sort of significance, 
as it was never omitted. As soon as one 
Hoodie Manuel died, another Manuel as- 
sumed the title, though not always the 
oldest. 

It was not required of a woman with a 
large family to do field work. Such women 
had their regular tasks of spinning allotted 
to them, sufHciently light to allow ample 
time to take care of their houses and chil- 
dren. The younger women (unless delicate) 
left their children in a day nursery in charge 
of an elderly woman who was caretaker. 
Usually they preferred field work, as being 
more lively ; but if one disliked it, she usu- 
ally soon contrived to be classed among the 
spinners. 

34 



PLANTATION LIFE 

When, occasionally, I happened to go to 
any of the houses, often quite unexpectedly, 
I can assert truthfully that I never, in a 
single instance, saw dirt or squalor in one 
of them. The floors were clean, the beds 
comfortable, with white and wonderfully 
clean blankets. Everything, though very 
homely, with clumsy benches and tables, 
looked white and thoroughly clean. I re- 
member hearing your grandfather speak of 
once going at breakfast time to a house to 
visit a sick child. The man of the house 
was seated at a small table while his wife 
served him. The table was covered with 
an immaculately clean homespun cloth, and 
coffee, in a tin pot shining with scrubbing, 
either sugar or molasses, I forget which, a 
dish of beautifully fried bacon and hoecakes, 
fresh from the fire, constituted his plain but 
most abundant meal. 

Separation of families has ever been a fa- 
vorite plea for the abolition of slavery, and I 
admit that in theory it was a plausible argu- 
ment; and justice compels me to say that 
such instances, though rare, were not un- 
known. As a rule, however, family ties were 
35 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

respected, and when, through the settlement 
of an estate, such separations seemed im- 
pending, they were usually prevented by 
some agreement between the parties ; for in- 
stance, if a negro man had married a woman 
belonging to another planter, a compromise 
was generally effected by the purchase of 
one of the parties, regardless of self-inter- 
est on the part of the owners. Thus fami- 
lies were kept together without regard to 
any pecuniary loss. Public sentiment was 
against the severing of family ties. 

Before I close this little sketch I will 
tell you as well as I can the outline of plan- 
tation work. 

, With the beginning of a new year, the 
crop being all housed, the sale corn being 
stored in large barns or cribs on the river 
banks, and the cotton either being sold or 
kept for better prices, the plowing, ditching, 
and, when the swamps were full, the float- 
ing out of timber, were all carried on with 
great diligence. At Christmas, when all the 
clothing, shoes, and Kilmarnock caps had 
been given out to the ditchers, high water- 
proof boots were distributed. It was the 
36 



PLANTATION LIFE 

custom to allow to every man who desired 
it a bit of land, upon which, in his spare 
time, to cultivate a small crop, for which he 
was paid the market price. Christmas was 
the usual day chosen for settling these 
accounts, and the broad piazza was full 
of happy, grinning black faces gathered 
around the table at which the master sat, 
with his account-book and bags of specie. 
A deep obeisance and a scrape of the foot 
accompanied each payment, and many a 
giggle was given to the lazy one whose 
small payment testified to his indolence. 
What a contrast between those happy, 
sleek, laughing faces and the sullen, care- 
worn, ill-fed ones of now! In the early 
springtime, what was known as the " trash- 
gang," that is, boys and girls who had never 
worked, were set to clearing up fences, 
knocking down cotton stalks, and burning 
small trash piles. 

I pause here to say that, the woodlands 
being a long distance from the quarters, 
the supply of fuel was a serious question, 
and when there was a threat of snow or 
increasing cold, every man would be em- 
37 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

ployed in cutting or hauling a supply of 
fuel to the houses. 

Planting time began with the middle of 
March. In August the crops were " laid 
by." The three days' holiday began with 
the slaughter of pigs and beeves, in prepa- 
ration for the annual dinner upon every 
plantation. After holiday came the fodder- 
pulling, a job hated by all, especially by over- 
seer and master, as the drenching dews and 
the hot sun combined to make much sick- 
ness. This work was never begun until late 
in the morning, but even after the sun had 
shone upon the fields, the people would be 
drenched in dew to their waists. Next, the 
whitening fields told that cotton-picking 
must begin, and, later on, a killing frost 
upon the already browning shucks sent the 
great wagons to the fields, where the corn- 
gatherers, with sharp needles tied to their 
wrists, ripped open the tough shucks and 
let loose the well-hardened ears of grain. 
As each field became stripped, stock would 
be turned in to feast upon the peas and 
pumpkins. 

With winter came that period of bliss to 
38 



PLANTATION LIFE 

the soul of Cuffee, namely, the hog-killing, 
when even the smallest urchin might revel 
in grease and fresh meat. 

If eyesight permitted, I might tell you 
some tales of plantation doings which might 
perhaps amuse you, but I have said enough 
to give you some idea of the old Southern 
life. All that I have said is within bounds, 
but, after all, I fear I have not been able to 
give you an adequate idea of the peaceful- 
ness and abundance of life upon a great 
plantation. 




GOING TO THE PLANTATION 

|UMMER is over; the nights 
grow chill, and the autumnal 
tints, beginning to glow upon 
the hillsides, tell the low-coun- 
try folk that the time draws near for the 
yearly flitting to their plantation homes. 
The planter, who passes the hot season 
amid the breezy uplands, begins to think 
of his whitening cotton fields, and grows 
impatient for the frost, which must fall ere 
the family may venture into the land of 
swamps and agues. He looks out upon the 
flower-beds, glowing with life and quivering 
in the sunshine, and listens to the incessant 
shrill-voiced cicada piping from the tree- 
tops, while the insect-drone, in the heated, 
languid air, seems to speak of an unending 
summer; but as "all things come to him 
who waits," so at length come the frosts to 
the planter. 

The week preceding the departure is a 
40 



GOING TO THE PLANTATION 

busy one, embracing, along with the num- 
berless good-byes, many important after- 
thoughts in the way of providing the 
necessities required in the isolated home, 
where shops are unknown. At length, 
however, the great boxes are closed, and 
stand ready for the daylight start of the 
wagon ; the bird-cage, the basket of kittens, 
and the puppy are also committed by the 
children to " Ung Jack," the teamster, who, 
with the broadest of smiles, promises "little 
missis" and the "little masters" to take 
the best of care of them. 

Giving the baggage a day's start, the 
family's departure takes place on the day 
following. After an early breakfast, Mammy 
and the younger children bundle into the 
big carriage, mother and the rest of the 
little mob follow in the barouche, while papa, 
who abhors the confinement of a carriage, 
follows on horseback. Although the ani- 
mal which he bestrides is a noble specimen 
of his kind, still it must be confessed that 
papa does not present a jaunty appearance 
as he jogs soberly along; and yet, as he sits 
easily swaying in the saddle, there is about 
41 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

him a careless grace which marks the nat- 
ural horseman. 

Three days are consumed upon the jour- 
ney. , It might be made in less time ; but the 
party prefer to take it easily, and at mid- 
day make a halt by a running stream, where, 
seated upon a fallen log or mossy bank, 
they open their well-stored baskets, and 
dine. The horses utter impatient whinnies 
as their drivers dip their buckets into the 
sparkling water of the little stream, and, 
when these are lifted to their heads, thirstily 
thrust their muzzles into the cool depths, 
and drink long and deeply of the refreshing 
draughts. 

At sunset, the tired Httle ones begin to 
look out for the white chimneys of old 
John Tayler's wayside inn, where they are 
to pass the night. This house has, for gen- 
erations, been the halting-place for plant- 
ers' families. Tayler's grandfather and his 
father have entertained bygone generations ; 
and so it is not strange that, when the little 
cortege draw up before the old piazza, and 
the red light from the pine blaze streams 
out from the open door, not only old John, 
42 



GOING TO THE PLANTATION 

but his wife and two elderly daughters 
stand with beaming faces to give the trav- 
elers a hearty greeting, kindly to usher them 
into the carpetless room and seat them 
upon the stiff *' split-bottomed " chairs. 
While the women busy themselves in 
getting supper, old John talks crops and 
politics to his guests, who, on their part, 
calmly accept the discomforts of the little 
inn as one of the unalterable laws of nature, 
without any idea of the possibility of im- 
provement, swallow without complaint the 
nauseous coffee, and rest philosophically 
under the home-made sheets and blankets, 
feebly wondering that so much weight 
should contain so little warmth. 

When supper is over, the women throw 
a fresh torch upon the fire, and, as it 
crackles up the wide chimney, and sends 
its red light and sweet odors over the room, 
they set themselves to their tasks of picking 
the seeds from the " raw cotton," for, being 
famous spinners and weavers, they disdain 
that which has had its staples torn by the 
teeth of the gin. 

Upon the second day, the party leave 
43 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

the hills, now gorgeous in their autumnal 
brilliancy, the rocky roads, and the swiftly 
running streams of the up-country, and 
enter the lonely region where the great 
turpentine trees rear their lofty crests, and 
interminable sandy roads stretch away into 
dimness between columns of stately pines 
whose lofty tops make solemn music to the 
sighing wind. 

The third day finds them in " The 
Slashes," a desolate region inhabited by 
squatters. As they jolt over corduroy roads 
between pools of stagnant waters, the trav- 
elers look out wearily upon a sparse growth 
of gallberry and scrub-pine. Now and then 
they pass the solitary hut of a charcoal- 
burner, surrounded by its little patch of 
meagre corn ; a pack of cur dogs rush out 
and bark fiercely, within the safe limits of 
the wattle fence surrounding the premises ; 
white-headed children gaze from the door- 
ways at the passing carriages. 

At the last settlement which they pass, 

a woman and a small, pale-faced boy are 

gathering in their corn crop. They are the 

wife and son of Bolin Brazle, an idle but 

44 



GOING TO THE PLANTATION 

good-natured vagabond, who spends his 
days scraping upon his fiddle up at the store, 
or occasionally, upon the promise of a drink, 
lending a hand in rafting tar-barrels. In 
consequence of the presentation of a worn- 
out mule, Bolin swears by the planter, 
wants to run him for the presidency, and 
obstinately refuses to receive pay for his 
charcoal. The matter is finally arranged by 
a barrel of corn being sent as a present 
whenever a load of charcoal is needed. 

Soon after leaving the " Slashes," a hud- 
dle of houses standing irregularly in a grove 
of magnificent oaks comes into view. In 
passing the one which does double duty as 
store and post-office, the travellers look at 
it with the realization that it is the connect- 
ing link with the outside world, as from 
it the bi-weekly mail is dispensed. Inside, 
some one (Brazle, no doubt) is scraping 
a lively jig upon his fiddle; on the long 
piazza men, lounging in chairs tilted against 
the wall, take off their hats to the carriages 
as they roll by. The planter draws his rein 
for a little friendly greeting, and the men, 
squirting tobacco juice, stand around and 
45 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

lazily report the country-side news as to 
the opening of the cotton, the state of the 
river, etc. Even the screech of the fiddle 
has died away. 

The long descents of the ferry hill com- 
mence, and the carriages roll pleasantly be- 
tween deeply wooded banks. The approach 
to the river is marked by long rows of tar- 
barrels awaiting shipment, or rather rafting. 
From this point the road has become a sort 
of concrete from years of leakage from the 
tar-barrels. The children shriek with joy 
as the carriages come to a stop, and, cran- 
ing their heads out, they behold the great 
tawny river in all its majesty. The repeated 
hallooings for the ferryman are at length 
responded to from far upstream. The old 
scamp is off fishing, and the party seek 
the shade, where a spring of clear water 
bubbles from a bank. While the children 
are drinking copious draughts, the parents 
stroll off and take a woodland path, which, 
after many a twist and turn amid thickets 
of sweet myrtle and purple-berried Bermuda 
Shrub, brings them to the summit of " The 
Bluff." 

46 



GOING TO THE PLANTATION 

Standing there, they look down upon the 
river, two hundred feet below. Upon the 
further side lie fields, all brown and golden 
in the sunshine, level and limitless; they 
stretch into the purple dimness where 
cypress trees loom upon the horizon, their 
flat tops mingling dreamily with the soft 
autumnal hazes. Far away, amid the sun- 
bathed fields, stand the trees which shelter 
the plantation home, whose chimneys and 
white gables are scarce visible save where a 
stray sunbeam falls upon them. 

'* So to the Jews fair Canaan stood, 
While Jordan rolled between," 

murmured the mother, as she glanced at 
her husband, to whom she knew the lands 
spread before them were, by inheritance 
and long association, far dearer than could 
be measured by the mere money value. 

Descending again to the ferry, they find 
the carriage already in the flat, and the 
children scarce restrained by Mammy from 
crossing without their elders. They draw 
deep breaths of delight as they watch old 
Bartley, with active limp, loosen the chain, 
and, planting his iron-shod pole deep into 
47 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

the grating sands, send the flat upstream ; 
then, at a given point, they watch with 
intense admiration his skill in taking: the 
sweeps and shooting swiftly to the other 
side. 

The horses know that they are near home, 
and prick up their ears, and go briskly on- 
ward. Scarcely a quarter of a mile is gone 
before the buildings of the " lower planta- 
tion" come into view, — a row of cabins 
built irregularly upon the highest points 
straggle along the river banks. Each cabin 
has its little garden with its row of coleworts 
and its beehives, or perhaps a pumpkin or 
two shows its yellow sides amid the withered 
vines. Outside the cabins, fish-nets are 
hung to dry, and from within comes the 
sleepy drone of a spinning-wheel ; about 
the doorstep hens are scratching, while 
from around the corner a cluster of little 
woolly heads peep out shyly. 

Standing in the mellow sunlight, amid 
fields of ripening corn, with the river gently 
flowing between levees of such strength 
as to set floods at defiance, these cabins 
seem the very embodiment of peaceful se- 
48 



GOING TO THE PLANTATION 

curity; the high piles, though, upon which 
they stand, are rather suggestive, and give 
a hint of what the now peacefully flowing 
stream is capable of when roused. 

A story is told of an old negro who 
obstinately refused to leave his house at a 
time when the unusually high water made 
it necessary to remove the people to a place 
of greater security. The rafts were ready, 
and the people, scared and anxious, had left 
their houses, and now only waited for old 
Todge, who, with mulish persistence, re- 
fused to be moved. At length, unable to 
persuade him, and afraid to wait longer, 
they poled the rafts away. For the first 
few hours Todge got on very well. He had 
plenty of provisions, and, as for the isola- 
tion, he did not care for it. By and by the 
water began to make its appearance upon 
his hearth, and, before long, his little bank 
of coal, upon which his bread was baking, 
began to sizzle, and soon became a moist 
and blackened heap. Todge, however, was 
not imaginative, and when night fell, he lay 
down upon his bed and slept without fear; 
that is, he slept until his bed began to float, 
49 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

then he awoke and groped his way neck 
deep in water until he found his ladder and 
managed by it to climb up into his loft, 
where he sat shivering, till suddenly he 
felt the cabin give a lurch, and the water 
rushed in. It had been lifted clear off the 
piles, and when it should settle down poor 
Todge would be caught like a rat in a hole. 
It was settling fast, and the water was gur- 
gling into poor Todge 's ears, when, in des- 
peration, he made a bolt at the roof, and, 
using his head as a battering ram, succeeded 
in knocking a hole in it, through which he 
contrived to creep out. Luckily, the point 
of the chimney was not quite submerged, 
and Todge was rescued in the course of 
the following day. 

The road, following the winding of the 
river, is bordered by giant trees from whose 
branches the gray moss waves dreamily, 
while leaves of palest yellow drop and 
silently float through the still air until they 
fall into the stream. In the fields, the corn- 
gatherers pause to doff their hats and smile 
their welcome. Ere long the barns and 
workshops of the upper plantation become 
50 



GOING TO THE PLANTATION 

visible. The tall gables and chimneys of 
the great house glisten in the sunlight. 
They pass the little church, with its bell 
half hidden amid the brown leaves of the 
great oak from which it dangles ; from 
cabin chimneys, half hidden in trees, thin 
columns of smoke ascend and mingle with 
the soft blue sky. 

At the open gate, a broadly smiling 
dusky group stands with welcome depicted 
upon every face. Hearty handshakes of 
real affection are exchanged, while the 
children are being hugged, caressed, 
laughed over, and extolled for their growth 
and beauty. The master and mistress pass 
under the trees, whose long shadows rest 
upon the soft, green grass between streams 
of sunshine. The old piazza, gilded into 
brightness, smiles a welcome home. 




MY OWN EARLY HOME 

WAS born at the old home in 
Raleigh, upon the land origi- 
nally held by my great-grand- 
father, Colonel Lane, from the 
Crown. It had been the home of my grand- 
father, Harry Lane, and of his wife, Mary, 
and it was there that their children and 
grandchildren were born. When my oldest 
brother attained his majority, he took pos- 
session of this place, while my mother set- 
tled at Wills Forest, which was also part of 
the Lane land. This, Wills Forest, became 
our beloved summer home, which I in- 
herited at the death of my dear mother. 
At the breaking out of the war between 
the states, your grandfather left to his 
subordinates his plantation interests in the 
eastern part of the state, and Wills Forest 
became our permanent home. Although 
you never saw this place in its palmy days, 
still, you are too well acquainted with its 
52 



MY OWN EARLY HOME 

situation to need a description. In spite of 
neglect, Wills Forest is still beautiful ; to 
it my heart is ever turning with regret and 
longing for that which can never return. 
It was for many years the brightest and 
happiest of homes, and as such it is still 
remembered by many besides its former 
inmates. 

Hospitality has ever been a marked 
characteristic of the Lane blood. Colonel 
Lane's doors were ever open, not only to his 
friends, but to every wayfarer, and as the 
small settlement, originally called Blooms- 
bury, became Raleigh, and the state capital, 
he found it necessary to build an "ornery" 
for the accommodation of strangers ; this 
building stood upon Hillsborough Street, 
and was torn down only a short time ago. 
These "orneries" were a very common ad- 
junct to gentlemen's residences in country 
neiojhborhoods, where there were no inns 
for the accommodation of travelers. We 
once stopped at one belonging to the Littles, 
near Littleton. It was kept by two servants, 
a man and his wife, belonging to the family, 
and they made us very comfortable. 
53 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

My grandfather, Harry Lane, inherited 
his father's Hberal and open-hearted nature, 
and the old home, even since the death of 
my brother, still maintains its character for 
genial hospitality. Nor was Wills Forest 
inferior to it in that respect. My mother, 
accustomed from earliest youth to lavish 
housekeeping, kept it up after her removal 
to Wills Forest, and, so long as her health 
permitted, ever took delight in making her 
home all that a kindly, open-handed hos- 
pitality could. Nor do I think its character 
deteriorated after your grandfather became 
its master. Both he and I were fond of 
society, and few strangers ever came to 
town who were not entertained at Wills 
Forest. This could not be possible now, 
but previous to the war it was not at all 
impossible, and, during the war, at times, we 
received whole families of refugees. I do 
not mention these facts in a boastful spirit, 
but only as a sample of the old customs of 
the South. 

During the winter of 1865, we had the 
pleasure of entertaining the family of Colo- 
nel Norris of Baltimore, and early in March 
54 



MY OWN EARLY HOME 

we had an unexpected visit from a large 
party of South Carolinians, who had been 
wounded in an attack made by General Kil- 
patrick upon Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's 
command at Fayetteville. Your grandfather 
met them in the street seeking for shelter; 
and, compassionating their forlorn condi- 
tion, he directed them to Wills Forest. 
When we first caught sight of the cortege 
surrounding two ambulances, we were 
alarmed, thinking that it must be the 
Yankees coming to deprive us of house 
and home. You may, perhaps, imagine the 
relief when I saw the dear Confederate gray. 
I met the cavalcade at the front steps, and 
bade them welcome ; the wounded were 
brought in and laid upon beds in the nur- 
sery, after which I directed one of our men, 
Frank, the carriage-driver, I think it was, to 
conduct the horsemen to the stable, to give 
the horses a plentiful feed, and then to bring 
the men up to the house to get their dinners. 
In ordinary times, this unlooked-for addition 
of more than twenty guests would, no doubt, 
have been an unwelcome tax, but in those 
days preceding the sad termination of the 
55 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

war there were so many poor, half-starved 
stragglers from the different commands 
passing to and fro, that we were never un- 
prepared to feed as many as called upon us. 
At this time, two cooks were kept continu- 
ally at work in the kitchen preparing such 
plain food as we could command : such as 
boiled hams, biscuit, loaf bread, corn bread, 
and wheat coffee. The milk and butter, all 
that we had, were joyfully given to our sol- 
diers. The gray jacket was, indeed, a pass- 
port to every Southern heart. I have fed 
many a poor, footsore " boy in gray," but 
never in a single instance heard a despond- 
ent word from one of them. Most grateful 
they were for their good, abundant meals, 
but often too modest to carry any away in 
their haversacks. 

In times of peace, both before and after 
the war, the social life at the table, with 
family and always welcome friends, was a 
source of much pleasure. For a dinner of 
ten or twelve persons, including ourselves, 
there would be a ham at the head, a large 
roast turkey at the foot, a quarter of boiled 
mutton, a round of beef a la mode, and a 
56 



MY OWN EARLY HOME 

boiled turkey stuffed with oysters. In the 
middle of the table would be celery in tall 
cut-glass stands, on the sides cranberries in 
moulds and various kinds of pickles. With 
these would be served either four or six 
dishes of vegetables and scalloped oysters, 
handed hot from the plate-warmer. The 
dessert would be a plum pudding, clear 
stewed apples with cream, with a waiter in 
the centre filled with calf's-foot jelly, syl- 
labub in glasses, and cocoanut or cheese- 
cake puddings at the corners. The first 
cloth was removed with the meats. For 
a larger entertainment a roast pig would 
be added, ice-cream would take the place 
of stewed apples. The dessert cloth would 
be removed with the dessert, and the de- 
canters and fruit set upon the bare mahog- 
any, with the decanters in coasters ; cigars 
would follow, after the ladies had left, of 
course. 

At the time of the surrender, General Lo- 
gan borrowed, or asked to borrow, my tables 
and cut-glass tumblers and wine-glasses ; as 
such a request meant an order, I, of course, 
allowed them to be taken; to my surprise all 
57 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

were returned. Generals Grant and Sher- 
man were entertained by Logan at this time, 
the tables being set before his tent in the 
grove. 

When my two little girls went to day 
school at St. Mary's, their dinners were sent 
to them by a negro boy or man. He carried 
the basket of hot dinner, while another car- 
ried the ice for their water, while another 
often walked behind bearing a large water- 
melon. As the other day-pupils dined in a 
similar way, the road at this time of day 
would be full of negroes carrying dinners. 

Since these bygone days, knowledge has 
increased, and men go to and fro with ease 
between the far corners of the earth ; but I 
do not think that either virtue or happiness 
has kept pace with this increase of know- 
ledge, nor has there ever been or will there 
ever be again such a country as the Old 
South, nor a people so good, so brave, or so 
true-hearted as the dear, primitive people of 
that good old time. 




TWO BOB WHITES 

iWO Bob Whites were standing 
beneath the old thorn-bush at 
the far end of the orchard; in- 
deed, they had been standing 
there for some time, with their heads held 
close, just as though they were talking to- 
gether. In fact, that is just what they were 
doing. They were talking about the nest 
that they were going to build. And it was 
high time, for already there was a nice little 
brood in that nest beyond the brook. But 
our Bob Whites were a prudent couple ; 
they did not approve of those early broods 
which came off barely in time to miss the 
chilly May rains. But the May spell was 
over now, the sun shone hot upon the wav- 
ing wheat, and over the fence, there in the 
old field, the dewberries were ripe. Already 
the little boys who live in the house over 
yonder had been after the berries, regard- 
59 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

less of briers and bare feet. Yes, it was 
high time that nest was built ; but, some- 
how, they could not fix upon an altogether 
suitable location. True, the old thorn-bush, 
with its wide-spreading branches, was most 
attractive ; but there the cart tracks ran 
too close by. As they stood thus in the 
clover, all undecided, they were startled by 
a loud cry from Robin Redbreast, whose 
nest was high up in that apple tree. Turn- 
ing to ascertain the cause of the outcry, 
they espied a great, evil-looking, yellow cat, 
creeping through the long grass. This de- 
cided them, and without waiting another 
moment, they abandoned the thorn-bush 
and flew away to seek a safer abode. This 
they finally found over toward the wheat 
field, far away from cats and all the nui- 
sances which attend the abodes of men. 

The nest was built back of the old gray, 
lichen-covered fence, just above the brook 
where the hazels and alders grow. All 
around was a blackberry thicket, and a 
great tussock of brown sedges sheltered 
the nest like a roof. Just beyond the fence 
was the wheat field. No one ever came 
60 



TWO BOB WHITES 

there, excepting that now and then on a 
Saturday the little boys who lived over 
yonder would pass by with their fishing- 
poles, jump the fence, and disappear in the 
hazel thickets. The Bob Whites did n't 
mind the boys, unless Nip happened to be 
along, nosing about in search of some mis- 
chief to get into. But as yet no little white 
egg lay in the nest, and when Nip cocked 
his impudent little ears at them, they were 
off with a whirr that sent him, scampering, 
startled and scared, after the boys. From 
the trees to which they had flown, the Bob 
Whites watched the movements of the 
boys with some anxiety. " They might, 
you know," whispered Mrs. Bob, " be after 
that brood of our cousin's beyond the 
brook; but no, they've stopped — they are 
throwing something into the water, and 
there's that good-for-nothing Nip with 
them, so we may go back to the nest." 
But they did not go, for there was that 
pert Jennie Wren fluttering about, as bold 
as anything, actually peeping into the bait 
gourd, and, goodness gracious ! she has 
stolen a worm and flown off with it ; what 
6i 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

impudence ! And listen, there 's Cardinal 
Grosbeak singing to them, — 

" Boys, boys, boys, 
Do, do, do 
Fish a little deeper." 

There he is, just a little above them, upon 
the hackberry; now he's flown to that 
willow ; he looks like a coal of fire, there 
among the green leaves. Now he begins 
again with his — 

*' Boys, boys, boys, 
Do, do, do." 

" The song may do well enough, but we 
don't approve of such forward ways," 
sighed Mrs. Bob. " No," chimed in Mrs. 
Mate Hare, limping from her home in the 
broom sedge. " It 's not safe, with that 
horrid little Nip so near ; to be sure, they've 
got wings, but as for me, he just fright- 
ens the life out of me, with his nosing and 
snifiing ; forever nosing and sniffing after 
some mischief." And she wiggled her nose 
and ears and looked so funny that the Bob 
Whites almost laughed in her face. 

Before long there was a little white egg 
62 



TWO BOB WHITES 

in the nest, and Bob White was so proud 
of it that he just stood upon the fences 
and called, " Bob White, Bob White, Bob 
White," all day long. And the boys who 
lived over yonder at the farmhouse said, 
" Listen to the Bob White, he 's got a nest 
over there in the wheat." " Let him alone," 
said the farmer; "there'll be good shoot- 
ing over there by and by." But Bob White 
had no thoughts to spare for by-and-bys. 
The blue June sky and the rustling wheat, 
the wild roses, and that little egg lying 
there in the nest were enough for him. So 
he just turned his round breast to the sun- 
shine, and called " Bob White" louder than 
ever. 

After a while, when the nest was full of 
eggs, the Bob Whites would creep through 
the wheat and whisper of the little ones 
that would soon be coming. " They '11 be 
here by the time the wheat is ripe," says 
Bob. " It '11 be fine feeding for them," re- 
plies Mrs. Bob. They never thought of 
the reapers with their sharp scythes, and of 
the noise and tramping, where all was now 
so peaceful. 

63 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

While Mrs. Bob sat upon her eggs, it 
amused her to see the Mate Hares come 
limping out at sunset, very timidly at first, 
pausing, startled, at every sound. Soon, 
however, they forgot their fears and began 
their dances, hopping and running round 
and round like mad, and cutting such ca- 
pers as quite scandalized the Bob Whites. 

" How very odd!" said Mrs. Bob, as she 
settled herself over her eggs. " I have heard 
that the March Hares have a Bee in their 
bonnets." "Same family," Bob White 
replied drowsily. Then Mrs. Bob, pressing 
her soft feathers gently upon her eggs, 
tucked her head under her wing and slept. 

Their dance over, the Mate Hares skipped 
down to the meadow, where the dew lay 
thick upon the clover. " How good ! " they 
said, as they nibbled and munched. " So 
sweet and tender, with the dew upon it!" 
" Who would eat dry seeds like the Bob 
Whites?" said one. " And go to sleep at 
dusk!" snickered another. "And whistle all 
day ! " said a third. " As much as to say to 
all men and dogs, * Here I am, come and 
shoot me ; ' so silly! Oh, there 's no family 
64 



TWO BOB WHITES 

like the Mate Hares for sense ; come, let *s 
have another dance." So they skipped and 
hopped and munched clover until the dawn 
sent them scudding away to their homes. 

Well, at last, upon a sunny June morn- 
ing, the lonely field was no longer lonely, 
neither was it quiet ; for the grain was ripe 
and the reapers had come. Yes, the reapers 
had come, and with them came Nip. Yes, 
there he was, showing that ugly little red 
tongue of his, and poking his black nose 
into every hole and bush ; no place was 
safe from those inquisitive eyes and sharp 
little cruel teeth. Mr. Bob watched him 
with a fluttering heart, as he ran sniffing 
about ; suddenly, there came a sharp yelp, 
and then Mrs. Mate Hare's cotton tail went 
flying over rock and brier, followed by Nip, 
with his short, inadequate legs. Soon, how- 
ever, he tired of this fun, and, trotting back, 
cocked his ears at the brier patch, sniffed 
about it, and crept in. Bob White, with an 
anxious call, flew into a tree. 

" He 's got a nest somewhere about 
there," said one of the reapers. " I bet it 's 
full of eggs," he added. " Yes, but the boss 
65 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

has give orders that they ain't to be tetched," 
said another. Then there came from the 
thicket a growl and a yelp, and Mrs. Bob, 
with a loud whirr, flew to her mate. " Nip 's 
got 'em ! " cried one of the men, and, pick- 
ing up a stone, he ran to the thicket, from 
whence now issued yelps of anguish. "He '11 
not trouble them again, I reckon," the man 
said, with a grin, as he picked up his scythe. 

Nip trotted home with a crestfallen and 
dejected air, but the Bob Whites, still agi- 
tated, remained in the tree, with necks 
craned anxiously toward the nest. When, 
at length, Mrs. Bob found courage to return, 
the melancholy sight met her eyes of three 
broken eggs, some more scattered ones, and 
a generally disordered nest. Bob now came 
to her assistance, the scattered eggs were 
put back, the nest repaired, and Mrs. Bob 
contentedly seated herself upon it. 

The hatching time was drawing near, 
and it was a most exciting period. Mrs. 
Bob sat very still, but, as for Bob, he just 
fidgeted from nest to tree and back again, 
stopping around and asking questions. 
Yes, one egg is pipped ; they '11 all be out 
66 



TWO BOB WHITES 

by to-morrow. And so they were, — thir- 
teen little puff-balls, upon tiny coral feet. 
" There would have been sixteen, but for 
that horrid Nip," sighed Mrs. Bob. But she 
was very proud and happy, as she led the 
little brood through the brush, showed them 
how to pick up ants' eggs, and tore up the 
soft mould for grubs and other dainties. 
When the nimble little feet grew tired, she 
took them to the alder thicket, where, hid- 
den away beneath her feathers, they piped 
themselves to rest. It was very quiet now: 
the reapers had gone ; there was no rustling 
of waving wheat, only the shocks stood up 
silent; there was only the soft clang, clang 
from the bell-cow, as the herd went home. 
Then the sun went down, and grayness 
followed, and from the thicket came the 
sad cry of the Chuck Will's widow. But 
the Bob Whites were fast asleep. At dawn, 
Bob White stood upon the topmost rail, 
and whistled and whistled as loud as he 
could; he felt so happy that he had to 
repeat, " Bob White, Bob White " to every- 
thing that he saw, — to the bell-cow, as 
she passed by on her way to the meadow ; 

67 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

then to the boy, who popped his whip and 
whistled back ; then to the trees, which 
nodded in return. When the sun came 
glinting through the leaves and set the dew- 
drops to glistening and the whole world 
to laughing, he whistled louder than ever, 
just for joy. But presently the reapers 
came again. Then Bob White slipped 
away and hid himself far down amid the 
alders, where Mrs. Bob was showing the 
puff-balls how to pick up grubs and how 
to use their little nimble legs in running 
after gnats and other good things. " Don't 
try to catch that great bee, but come and 
pick up these ants' eggs," she called, as she 
threw aside the earth with her strong claws. 
" You must attend to what I say, for you 
are very ignorant little things, and if you 
are not careful to mind what I say you may 
be caught up by a hawk at any moment. 
So, listen : when I say ' Tuk,' you must hide 
yourselves immediately; don't try to run 
away, but just get under a rock, or even 
a leaf, or just flatten yourselves upon the 
ground, if you can't do better ; you are so 
nearly the color of the ground that a boy 
68 



TWO BOB WHITES 

will never see you, and you can even escape 
a hawk's keen eye." 

After a while, mother and brood left the 
alder thicket, and, as the reapers were now 
in a distant part of the field, Mrs. Bob led 
them all to a sunny spot where they might 
pick upon the fallen grains and wallow in 
the dry, hot sand. It was very nice to do 
this, and they were having a charming 
time, when suddenly voices were heard, 
and at once two boys were upon them. 
But not so much as one little brown head 
or one little pink toe was visible; the sign 
had been given, and now only a poor, 
wounded Bob White lay in the path before 
them. " She 's dead," said one of the boys. 
" No, she ain't, her wing 's broke," cried the 
other, as he made a dive at her. But, some- 
how, Mrs. Bob continued to flop the broken 
wing, and to elude them. Another futile 
dive, and the two tin buckets containing 
the reapers' dinners were thrown down and 
forgotten in the keen interest of chasing 
the wounded Bob White, who managed to 
flop and flutter just beyond their reach 
until she had led them quite across the 

69 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

field, — then, with a whirr, she bounded 
into the air and safely perched herself upon 
a distant tree. The astonished small boys 
gazed blankly after her, wiped their hot 
faces upon their sleeves, and turned, reluc- 
tantly, to pick up their buckets. As they 
went along, hot and crestfallen, one of them 
suddenly exclaimed: "She's got young 
ones hid yonder, I bet," and with that they 
set off at a run. Mrs. Bob White, who 
knew boy-nature well, craned her neck to 
watch, and fluttered nearer. Then Bob 
White came, and both continued to watch 
with anxiously beating hearts, for those 
little boys were evidently bent upon mis- 
chief. Would the poor little puff-balls out- 
wit them ? One little piping cry, one brown 
head raised, and all would be lost. But, as 
they watched, their fears began to subside. 
The boys are again wiping their hot faces, 
they look discouraged, they have evidently 
found nothing ; yes, certainly not, for, see, 
they are picking up their buckets, and now 
they are going across the field to where 
the reapers are calling them to hurry along 
with their dinners. 

70 



TWO BOB WHITES 

Such daily annoyances as this now de- 
termined the Bob Whites to take refuge in 
the alder thicket, in whose deep seclusion 
they soon regained tranquillity of spirits. 
The dampness of the situation, however, 
proving most unfavorable to their brood, 
they anxiously awaited the time when the 
departure of the reapers would restore quiet 
and enable them to return to their haunts. 
At length the wished-for time arrived ; from 
the topmost boughs of the big maple Bob 
White could see neither man, boy, or dog, 
in the whole length and breadth of the 
field. Summoning the family together, they 
joyfully crept through the brush to bask in 
the broad stretches of sunshine and to pick 
up the scattered grain amid the stubble. 
Here they remained through all the long 
summer days, their solitude broken only by 
the yellow butterflies and by the big brown 
grasshoppers bumping about in the stub- 
ble, the silence broken only by the occa- 
sional jangle from the bell-cow, as she shook 
the deerflies from her sleek sides. 

By and by, when the goldenrod was 
yellow upon the hillside, the young ones, 
71 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

in their new brown coats, began to try their 
wings, and felt very proud if they could 
make them whirr, when they rose to the 
fence or to a low brush. Had they been 
boys, they would have been called hobble- 
dehoys ; but, being Bob Whites, they were 
known as squealers, and as such they felt 
very mannish and ambitious to be inde- 
pendent ; but, nevertheless, they still liked 
to huddle together at nightfall and talk 
over the day's doings, close to, if not under, 
the mother's wing. 

By and by, again, when goldenrod stood 
brown and sere upon the hillside and the 
sumach glowed red in the fence corners 
and thickets, when the fall crickets were 
chiming their dirge down amid the grass 
roots and the air was growing frosty at 
nights, then the Bob Whites grew restless 
and took flight for a far-off pea field, noted 
as a feeding-ground. Here they met other 
families of kinsfolks, and then began a right 
royal time, running nimbly through the 
rich pea vines or scratching in sassafras or 
sumach thickets for insects, growing fat and 
growing lazy all the time. The gourmand 
72 



TWO BOB WHITES 

of the autumn was in manner quite a con- 
trast to the Bob Whites of the days of 
young wheat and wild roses. No blithe, 
good music now issued from that throat, 
so intent upon good cheer. True, some 
unpleasant rumors are afloat. The Mate 
Hares, scudding frantically away, reported 
an advance of men, with guns and dogs ; 
but the Mate Hares were always silly and 
unreliable. So our Bob Whites just keep 
on eating and making merry. Fortune may 
favor them, — who knows ? Let us hope, 
and listen out next year for the cheery 
"Bob White, Bob White," from the old 
nesting-place. 




LITTLE DAVE 

jHE cool fogginess of an Au- 
gust morning has melted under 
the fierce sun. The level fields, 
like a waveless ocean, stretch 
away into the dim, green distance. The 
hot air quivers above cotton-fields, heavy 
with bolls and gay with blossoms, which 
give out a half-sickening fragrance. A 
languid air rustles low amid the corn, from 
whose dense growth arises a damp, hot 
breath. Out in the pasture, work-horses 
leisurely crop the sunburnt grass, or stand 
under the trees, lazily switching away the 
swarming gnats. 

A restful quiet broods over the big plan- 
tation, for the plow and the hoe have fin- 
ished their task ; sun and showers must 
do the rest. The crop is " laid by," and 
the summer holidays have begun. Three 
days of rest before the gathering in begins. 
Over at the quarter, the young people 
74 



LITTLE DAVE 

fill the long, lazy day with patting and dan- 
cing, banjo-playing and watermelon-eating. 
The elders, for the most part, are absorbed 
in preparations for the big holiday dinner. 
By dawn, holes have been dug in the ground 
and heated for the barbecuing of various 
meats, and those who hold the honorable 
posts of cooks are busily engaged in bast- 
ing, tasting, and sending the small urchins 
after fuel. Some of the women are knead- 
ing flour hoe-cakes; others, gathered about 
a table under a great mulberry tree, are 
peeling fruit for pies, while now and then 
they raise their voices with blood-curdling 
threats to hasten the lagging steps of a little 
gang, which, looking like a string of black 
beetles, troop slowly along from the orchard, 
each holding in the skirt of his solitary gar- 
ment the small store of fruit which he has 
not been able to eat. A row of tables spread 
in the shade stands ready for the feast, and, 
along the pathway, the guests from neigh- 
boring plantations are already approach- 
ing. 

Up at the great house an unnatural quiet 
prevails, for upon this day all work is laid 
75 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

aside and all are off to the barbecue ; even 
old Aunt Sylvie has forgotten the " misery" 
in her back, has donned her Sunday gar- 
ments, and stepped briskly off to the quar- 
ter; cook, too, has closed the ever-open 
kitchen door and departed, along with 
nurse, over whose toilet her little charges 
have presided with so much zeal that they 
have emptied their mother's cologne flask 
in order to bedew their mammy's pocket- 
handkerchief to their satisfaction. 

Tiny curly-headed Jack feels rather dis- 
consolate without his mammy, but is par- 
tially consoled by flattering visions of what 
her pockets will bring home at the end of 
the day.^ 

Away down upon the creek the little 
gristmill stands silent; the old mossy 
wheel has for to-day ceased its splash and 
clatter, and, like all else upon the planta- 
tion, is resting from its labor; to-day no 
sacks stand open-mouthed, awaiting their 
turn ; no little creaking carts, no mill boys 

1 Little Jack is now a grave and reverend bishop, but I 
doubt if he has altogether forgotten the deliciousness of the 
flabby pie, eaten with such content at the close of that day. 

76 



LITTLE DAVE 

mounted astride their grists are seen upon 
the path, and Wat, the miller, in the lazy 
content of dirt and idleness, lies basking in 
the sun. Within the wattle fence on the 
other side of the path, his three children, 
little Dave, Emma Jane, and a fat baby, are 
sprawling upon the ground, along with the 
house pig, two puppies, and the chickens. 
Little Dave, who is perhaps somewhat 
dwarfed by toting first Emma Jane in her 
infancy, and now the fat baby, looks not 
unlike a careworn little ape, as he sits flat 
upon the ground, spreading his bony toes 
for the baby to claw at. 

Emma Jane, with her stout little body 
buttoned into a homespun frock, is also 
seated in the sand, solemnly munching 
upon a hunk of corn bread, while the 
chickens, with easy familiarity, peck at the 
crumbs which fall upon her black shins. 
Within the cabin, Polly, the miller's wife, 
has tied a string of beads about her sleek 
black throat, and now, in all the bravery 
of her flowered calico, is ready to set off 
for the quarter; first, though, she pauses 
at the gate to speak to little Dave. 
11 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

" When de chile git hongry, you git dat 
sweeten water off de shelf and gie it to him 
long wid his bread ; " then adds, with a sus- 
picion of tenderness upon her comely face; 
" I gwine fetch you some pie." Then, call- 
ing to Wat, that he had better " fix his sef 
and come along, ef he speck to git any of de 
dinner," she steps briskly along the narrow 
pathway, mounts the zigzag fence, and dis- 
appears amid the high corn. 

Some miles below, where the little creek 
which turns the mill-wheel steals from out 
the swamp to join the river, a clumsy, 
flat-bottomed scow lies grounded upon a 
sand-bar. This is no evil to Boat Jim, who, 
sprawled upon the deck, snores away the 
hours, regardless of the blistering sun beat- 
ing down upon his uncovered head, and all 
unconscious of the departure of his chance 
passenger, an itinerant organ-grinder. This 
fellow, having had the ill luck to lose the re- 
spectable member of the firm, his monkey, 
and finding difficulty without the aid of his 
little partner to attract an audience, had, 
while idling about the docks, encountered 
Boat Jim, and persuaded the latter to give 
78 



LITTLE DAVE 

him a lift up the river, the condition being 
that he was to grind as much music as Jim 
should desire. But, disgusted with three 
days of slotv progress upon the boat, he had, 
after viciously kicking the unconscious Jim, 
stolen the small boat and put himself ashore.' 
Following the windings of the creek, he 
came to the little mill, where, attracted by 
the shade, he seated himself close to the 
wattle fence of Polly's little yard. Hearing 
voices, he peeped through the fence, and his 
eyes were soon fixed upon little Dave, who, 
with the fat baby and Emma Jane for spec- 
tators, is performing various tricks with infi- 
nite delight to himself. He stands upon his 
head, he turns somersaults, he dances, he 
pats, and finally he swings himself into a 
tree, where he skips about with the agility 
of a monkey. A thought comes into the 
organ-grinder's head ; he glances at the si- 
lent mill and at the cabin : evidently both 
are deserted ; here is a chance to replace 
the dead monkey. 

The sun is sending long shafts of crim- 
son light into the swamp and glinting upon 
the millhouse; the high corn, awakening 
79 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

from its midday torpor, rustles softly to the 
evening breeze, as Wat and Polly wend their 
way homeward. A bucket, lightly poised 
upon Polly's head, holds scraps of barbe- 
cue and little Dave's promised pie, and, as 
she draws near the wattle fence, she thinks, 
with a pleased smile, of how she will set it be- 
fore " de chilluns," when a prolonged howl 
falls upon her ears. Recognizing the voice 
of Emma Jane, she says to herself : " She 
hongry, I spek," and trudges on, in nowise 
disturbed by this familiar sound. But, when 
they enter the yard, there is only Emma 
Jane, bawling, open-mouthed, beside the 
baby, who, with the house pig, lies asleep on 
the warm sand. The chickens are daintily 
picking their way to the house, the old mus- 
covy duck has tucked her head under her 
wing for the night. Old Keep, the stump- 
tailed coon dog, crawls from under the 
cabin to greet them. But where is Dave ? 
The miller carries the sleeping child in- 
doors, followed by the still bawling Emma 
Jane, while the wrathful Polly goes to the 
back of the house. Stripping the twigs 
from a switch, she mutters : " I knows what 
80 



LITTLE DAVE 

you's arter; you tuck yoursef to dat water- 
million patch, dat whar you gone ; but ne' 
mine, boy, you jest le' me git hold o' you." 
Then, after a time given to unsuccessful 
search, calls of " Da-a-vie — oh, oh, Dave ! " 
fall upon the stillness, to be answered only 
by weird echo from the lonely swamp. 
Returning from her search, she finds Wat 
seated upon the doorstep. 

" Dave done took hissel off to de quar- 
ter," he says ; " but no mind, I gwine fill 
him full o' licks in de mornin'." 

But, when morning comes and brings no 
little Dave, wrath gives place to fear. The 
plantation is aroused ; finally the mill-pond 
is dragged, and, although the body is not 
found, the conclusion is that the boy has 
been drowned. 

After a time Polly's smile beams as 
broadly as ever, but her heart still yearns 
for her boy, and amid the sleepy drone of 
her spinning-wheel, she pauses to listen ; 
or, standing in her door, she looks ever 
wistfully along the crooked path. Across 
the way, the little mill clatters on as mer- 
rily as of yore ; Wat heaves the great sacks 
8i 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

upon his brawny shoulder, metes out the 
grist, and faithfully feeds the hopper ; but, 
when a chance shadow falls athwart the 
sunny doorway, he looks up with a gleam 
of hope upon his stupid, honest face, then 
brushes his hand across his eyes, and goes 
on in stolid patience with his work. So 
the summer and the autumn pass, without 
change, save that Emma Jane substitutes 
sweet potatoes for corn bread, and the fat 
baby has learned to balance himself upon 
his bowlegs. 

Upon a winter evening Wat enters the 
cabin at the usual hour. Polly has laid a 
bit of clean homespun upon the table ; his 
bowl of coffee, his fried meat, and his hoe- 
cake stand ready ; but, instead of falling to, 
as his custom is, he sits silent and despond- 
ent, with his face buried in his hands, until 
Polly asks : — 
" What de matter; is you po'ly ? " 
" I dunno as I 'se, to say, po'ly," Wat re- 
plies, " but dat boy 's been a-pesterin' me 
dis livelong day, a-callin' ' Daddy, Daddy ! ' 
jes' like I talkin' now, till seem like I 'se 
most beat out along o' him." 
82 



LITTLE DAVE 

" Dat mighty curous," Polly answered, 
" 'cause Ole Keep, he 's been a-howlin' dis 
blessed day. I 'lowed dat Ung Silas were 
gwine be tuck." 

" 'T ain't dat," the miller interrupted. 
" Ung Silas, he done got better ; he howlin' 
arter sompen nother, but 't ain't arter Ung 
Silas." 

Upon that identical winter's day, in a 
back alley of New York, a small crowd of 
idlers had gathered to witness the perform- 
ance of the " Man Monkey." A little crea- 
ture, dressed in tinsel, leaped and capered, 
keeping time to the grinding of an organ. 
When the spectators were silent, he would 
glance timidly at his ill-favored keeper, but 
when they cheered, the poor little figure 
would strive to outdo itself, in spite of la- 
boring breath and trembling limbs. Then 
a rope was stretched, and " The Man 
Monkey," seizing an end, swung himself 
up, and, amid the acclamations of the ad- 
miring mob, began a new act of his per- 
formance. The day was cold, and at that 
dizzy height the wind struck bitterly 
through the starved little overtaxed body ; 
83 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

he lost his footing, caught wildly at the 
rope, missed it, and — fell. 

In that brief second did he see the old 
mill and the little cabin standing in the 
sunshine ? Did he hear his mother's voice ? 
God knows. When a pitying hand gently 
turned the little heap of quivering human- 
ity, a happy smile lit up the pinched face, 
and the dying lips murmured, " Daddy." 




THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 



I HE cold gray light of early dawn 
had given place to saffron, and 
the first drowsy challenge from 
the henroost had been shrilly 
answered from far and near, when old man 
Jerry awoke from his nap in the chimney 
corner, and, finding himself chilled through 
all his old, rheumatic bones, bent over the 
dying embers, pushed together the black- 
ened and half-burned " chunks," and blew 
them until they glowed. Then, hitching his 
stool close into the ashes, he spread his 
horny palms to the blaze, and basked in 
its genial warmth as it crackled up the wide 
chimney. Reaching his pipe from its nook, 
he filled it, dipped it skillfully in the coals 
so as to ignite without wasting the pre- 
cious weed, and drew a long whiff by way 
of a start; then, bending still closer to the 
blaze, he pulled away, now and then rub- 
85 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

bing his shins in slow content, as though 
to emphasize his comfort. 

All things, though, must come to an end. 
The " chunks " became a heap of white 
ashes, the pipe was finished, and broad 
shafts of light stealing down the chimney 
and under the door told " Ung Jerry " that 
it was time to be stirring. 

He had, according to his usual custom, 
risen from his bed long before cockcrow, 
and, having cooked and eaten his " morn- 
ing bread," had unlatched his door in order 
to throw a morsel to his old hog-hound, 
" Drive," who had already crept from under 
the house, and stood wagging his stump 
of a tail in eager expectancy. The morsel 
being thrown, the old man had cast a know- 
ing look towards the heavens, and, judg- 
ing by the seven stars that it yet lacked an 
hour to dawn, had returned to the smoky 
warmth and comfort of his hovel, where, 
seated in the chimney nook, he had nodded 
till roused by the crowings from all the 
neighboring henroosts — for his cabin was 
one of many. 

The pipe being smoked, Ung Jerry 
86 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

rose stiffly, and, shuffling to his bed, fumbled 
underneath it, and, taking care not to dis- 
turb the setting hen, brought out two bits 
of old blanket, with which he proceeded to 
wrap his feet before putting on his shoes/ 

The hog-horn was now slung over the 
old coat, a bucket of cold victuals was 
reached from the shelf, and the old hog- 
feeder, equipped for his day's work, lifted 
the latch, and, stepping out into the sharp 
frostiness of the November morning, 
plodded with heavy steps toward the barn- 
yard, Drive following closely at his heels. 

The frosty fields were glittering in the 
slant rays of the newly risen sun, and sounds 
of busy life came floating through the crisp 
air, telling the old man that the day's labor 

1 As this is a true tale of an old-time plantation 
negro, I think it but fair to state that he had a " chist " 
full of good clothes ; but, with a parsimony not un- 
common among his race, he preferred to protect his 
feet with old bits of blanket, instead of using the 
excellent home-knit woollen socks which lay snugly 
hidden away in his "chist ; " and it was the same feel- 
ing which caused him to wrap himself now into an 
old garment made up of patches, although three good 
ones lay snugly folded away in the same chest. 

87 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

had begun. The sharp crack of the team- 
ster's whip told that the great ox wag- 
ons were already afield. The plow-boys 
whistled as they led out their mules ; men 
and short-skirted, heavily shod women went 
trooping to the cotton fields; the milk- 
women stepped briskly by, with the foam- 
ing pails balanced upon their well-poised 
heads. Then came the cowboys, with noisy 
whoop, driving before them the crowding, 
clumsy, sweet-breathed herd, while, fear- 
lessly amid all, pigeons fluttered, greedily 
picking up the refuse grain, heedless of the 
hoofs among which they pecked and flut- 
tered. 

One small, grizzled mule, of great age 
and much cunning, had contrived to slip 
into the feedroom, and was there enjoying 
a stolen bait of oats when Ung Jerry 
found her. 

" You speck I wan't gwine fine you, I 
reckon, but you'se wrong dis time," he 
said, taking her by one of the long ears and 
leading her off to the barnyard, where the 
little cart awaited her. 

Drive, meanwhile, had crept under the 
88 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

barn, where, nosing about, he had come upon 
a hen's nest, and was feasting upon the warm, 
fresh eggs. 

The hitching-up was done with great 
deliberation. Ung Jerry plodded to and 
from the harness-room many times, bring- 
ing out first a chuck collar, then a bit of 
leather, finally, after a long search, an end 
of rope. At length, when all seemed to be 
adjusted, the old man again retired to the 
harness-room, where he remained so lono; 
that Drive was contemplating another raid 
upon the hens, when he reappeared, bring- 
ing with him an old piece of bagging, with 
which he proceeded with careful adjustment 
to protect the old mule's back from the 
friction of the cart-saddle. She, meanwhile, 
had stood with closed eyes and flopped ears, 
immovable save for an occasional twitch- 
ing of her small, rat-like tail ; but when 
the loading began, her manner changed 
from its quiescent indifference; watchful 
glances followed each basketful that was 
dumped in, and an ominous backing of the 
ears gave warning of what would happen 
should the load be heavier than she liked. 
89 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

At length, all being ready for the start, 
Ung Jerry climbed slowly to his perch 
on the cart's edge, gave a jerk to the rope 
bridle, and Rachel moved off, closely fol- 
lowed by Drive, who, conscious of egg- 
sucking and fearful of its consequences, had 
prudently ensconced himself beneath the 
cart, from whence he eyed, suspiciously, all 
passers-by. 

Slowly the little cart crept along the 
narrow plantation lanes, crept past the level 
cornfields and into the wide pasture, where 
sunburnt mares were grazing with their 
wild-eyed, unkempt colts; crept past the 
marsh, where the heron, disturbed in her 
solitary vigil, rose upon silent wing and 
sought some more secluded haunt amid 
the dim recesses of the swamp. 

Turning at length into the forest, where 
the gray moss hanging from the trees al- 
most obscured the deep blue autumnal 
sky, the cart slowly creaked through the 
rustling leaves until it came upon a cross 
fence which barred the way. Here, as 
Rachel came to a full stop, Ung Jerry awoke 
from his nap, descended from his perch, 
90 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

and, unslinging his horn, blew one lono- 
blast. 

One was enough. In a moment the deep 
stillness of the forest was broken by the 
pattering of many little feet; from the 
thickets the hogs came ; each hurrying with 
might and main to be foremost, they rushed, 
grunting, squealing, crowding to the fence, 
where, standing with upturned faces and 
small covetous eyes, they awaited the feast of 
golden grain which the old man hastened to 
scatter amongst them. Then, leaning upon 
the fence, he noted each greedy grunter as 
he wriggled his small tail in keenest enjoy- 
ment and cracked the sweet corn. 

No need was there to count; to the hog- 
feeder each animal possessed an individu- 
ality so marked that in all the drove the 
absence of the most insignificant was at 
once detected. So now, as he leaned upon 
the fence, he cast anxious glances into the 
dimness beyond. Evidently some were 



missmg. 



Drive, too, divining his master's thoughts, 
stood with look intent and anxious yelp, 
impatient for the search to begin. 
91 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

Then the word came, " Seek, boy ! " 

Scrambling through the fence, he dashed 
into every covert or tangle wherein a hog 
might lurk, but without result ; there came 
no rush of feet, no shaking of the brown 
leaves, no startled grunt. All was still, 
save for the quick panting of the old 
hound. 

The old man then turned his eyes again 
upon the greedy mob, still hoping to dis- 
cover the missing ones amongst them. 
'T was all in vain. 

" De listed sow, she done gone, an' de 
big white hogue, he done gone, an' seben 
head o' shotes ! " he at length murmured, 
still, however, casting expectant glances 
toward the thickets, in which Drive was 
still snifHng with uneasy yelpings. 

"Seem like dem creturs is clean gone, 
sho' nuf," he exclaimed, with an air of un- 
willing conviction ; then adding, " well, ef 
dey's gone, I 'se got 'em to fine, dat's de 
trufe." 

He called in the dog, and, taking his 
dinner bucket, climbed the fence and struck 
off into the woods. Now and again he 
92 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

would pause, put his horn to his lips, and 
give a long blast, then stand listening with 
anxious expectancy. Every thicket was 
searched. It was a weary tramp, — through 
bogs and sloshes, where the cypress knees 
stood up like sugar-loaves in the shallow 
water, or sometimes his steps were bent 
to some open glade, where the great oaks 
dropped sweet mast among the brown 
leaves. 

The day was no longer young when a 
low fence came into view ; beyond it 
stretched a levee, and at its base a glint of 
water showed itself through the great trees, 
which stretched their mighty arms as 
though they would embrace it. 

Ung Jerry, after climbing the fence, 
mounted the levee and stood upon the brink 
of a wide and muddy river. Taking off his 
hat, the old man wiped the sweat from his 
face, then turned an observant eye upon 
the river, whose muddy waters were already 
lapping the boughs of the overhanging 
trees, and with a long-drawn breath ex- 
claimed, " Bank an' bank ! " 

Then, as his experienced eye noted the 
93 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

angry swirls near the shore and the debris 
borne rapidly upon the turbid current, " An' 
still on de rise. She gwine be out in de 
low groun's befo' mornin', bless de Lord; 
I s been 'spectin' she gwine play dis trick 
eber since de win' set like et did." 

Then, looking at the field of standing 
corn upon the further shore, protected by 
a low levee, and seeming to be upon a lower 
level than the red waters of the flood, he 
soliloquized : — 

" I 's skeared de fresh gwine 'stroy a 
sight o' Mars Jones's corn. It raly do 'pear 
like dat corn mout a been housed befo' 
now." 

The old man's thoughts were interrupted 
at this point by loud and animated bark- 
ings from Drive, and, hurrying to the spot 
whence they proceeded, he discovered the 
old hound standing in a broken gap in the 
fence, in a state of excitement over the nu- 
merous footprints which told that the tru- 
ants had broken through and made for the 
river, evidently with designs upon " Mars 
Jones's " cornfield. 

" Here 's wha' dey tuck de watah," the 
94 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

old man remarked to the dog, as together 
they followed the footprints to the water's 
edge. " Dat 'ere listed sow, she got mo' 
sense un folks ! She know 'bout Mars 
Jones's corn, an' dey ain't no fence gwine 
stop dat cretur when she take a notion for 
to go. 

" Well, well, well, de listed sow, an' de 
bis: white hosfue, an' seben head o' shotes 
done tore down de fence, an' took deyselves 
'cross de riber for to steal Mars Jones's 
corn ; I 'clare 't is a disgrace. I reckon Mars 
Jones gwine cuss a plenty when he fine it 
out. It certinly is a pity for master's cre- 
turs to do sich a low-life trick as dat. But 
bless de Lord," and a look of crafty triumph 
came into his face, " dey 's got dey bellies 
full, anyhow." 

With this pleasing reflection, and the 
conviction that nothing more could be done 
for the present, the old man seated him- 
self upon a log, opened his bucket, took 
out his jack-knife, and proceeded to eat his 
dinner, while Drive sat by, in eager readi- 
ness to snatch the morsels flung to him, 
ere they could reach the ground. 
95 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

When the meal was finished, dog and 
man each took comfort in his own way. 
The dog stretched himself in the sun- 
shine. The old man sat with bent head 
"a-studyin', " then nodded, then fell into 
a deep sleep, soothed by the silence, which 
reigned unbroken save for the distant caw- 
ing of a crow. 

The long gray moss swayed dreamily 
upon the motionless boughs of the giant 
trees. Where the sycamore lifted its 
gaunt, white arms, the great bald eagle sat 
immovable, watching with fierce, intent 
gaze for its prey in the waters below. 

II 

The shadows were growing long upon 
wood and river when the light dip of a 
paddle broke upon the stillness, and old 
Jerry, rousing from his nap, spied a canoe 
gliding down stream, guided by two youths 
who, with their guns lying crosswise upon 
their knees, were making for the bank. 

"Mars Harry an' Mars Phil," he mur- 
mured, eying them with lazy curiosity, as 
they brought their little craft to land, and 
96 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

after making it fast, picked up their guns, 
crossed the levee, and struck off into the 
swamp. 

'' Dey 's after turkey, I 'speck ; Mars 
Harry an' me, we 's killed many a varmint 
in dese here woods. Dey want no Mars 
Phil 'bout here in dem days befo' ole Mars 
were tuck down." 

Thus soliloquizing, the old man con- 
tinued to gaze wistfully after the retreating 
figures ; for their appearance had seemed 
to bring a disturbing element into his peace- 
ful dreams, and a look of helpless trouble 
overspread his face as, taking off his hat 
and slowly scratching his head, he mur- 
mured : — 

"Seem like it mos' a pity Mars Phil 
trouble hisself for to come here, anyhow. 
Well, well, well! we folks all gwine be 
Vided up 'twix Mars Harry an' Mars Phil, 
'cause ole Mars, he not long for dis world ! 
Bless de Lord, whinsoever it please Him 
for to teck ole Mars to hisself, I trus' he 
gwine 'vide off Jerry to Mars Harry's shere, 
'cause I nachally ain't got no use for t'other 
one — he too outlondesh." 
97 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

So saying, he rose and reached his bucket 
from the bough where it hung. Drive, who 
had for some moments been watching him 
out of the corner of one red eye, rose also, 
and the two set out upon their tramp back 
to the cart. 

The old man had climbed the fence, the 
dog had scrambled through, and both were 
threading their way across the swamp, 
when the report of a gun close by caused 
the dog to beat a retreat from the thicket 
into which he had thrust his nose, and, with 
tail tucked in, to creep to his master's side ; 
while the old man, exclaiming, " Good Gor- 
a-mighty ! whot dat ? " pushed aside the 
bushes in order to see what game the boys 
had brought down. 

The sight that met his eyes froze him 
with horror. Philip's lifeless body lay upon 
the ground, while Harry, with scared white 
face, bent over it. 

For a brief space the old man stood as if 
petrified, then muttered: "Jerry ain't gwine 
know nothin' bout dis here. When ole 
Mars say, 'Jerry, what you seen in de Vine 
Ridge Swash ? ' Jerry, he gwine say, ' No- 
98 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

thin', Marster, fo' de Lord, I seen nothin' 
'tall !' An' I ain't gwine tell no lie, nuther, 
'cause I ain't gwine look!" 

Thus thinking, he cautiously drew back, 
and, with ashen face and limbs that through 
trembling almost failed to support him, he 
stealthily crept away until out of earshot ; 
then took to his heels and fled. When, 
however, he was forced to pause for breath, 
he considered if he had done well to desert 
his young master, and turned reluctantly to 
retrace his steps, when, as he did so, the air 
was suddenly rent with ear-piercing shrieks 
for half a second, and Jerry's heart quailed. 

"It's boun' to be de debil," he whispered. 
Then, a light seeming to break upon him, 
he exclaimed: "Bless God! 't ain't nothin' 
but de ole Chieftain a-blowin'." 

The Chieftain, a small freight steamer, 
had recently taken the place of the old 
flat-bottomed scows, and, as the steam 
whistle was still a novelty, it is not surpris- 
ing that Ung Jerry, in his terror, should 
for the moment have mistaken it for some 
unearthly sound. 

After many irresolute pauses, the old 
99 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

man at length reached the scene of the 
disaster, and with shaking hands thrust 
aside the bushes. Except for the small 
birds silently flitting to their roosts, the 
place was utterly deserted. The level sun- 
beams glinted through the gray moss, 
gilded the tree trunks, and glowed crimson 
upon the brown leaves; the solitary peace 
of nature seemed unbroken ; only the pool 
of blood at Ung Jerry's feet told him 
that what he had witnessed had not been a 
vision. 

After a moment's survey he was turning 
away, when his eyes fell upon the two guns: 
here, at least, was something tangible, 
and the old man proceeded to secrete them 
in the fallen leaves. Squatted upon the 
ground, he was too busily engaged to note 
the sound of approaching footsteps, and 
started violently when a rough voice ac- 
costed him. He mustered courage, how- 
ever, to quaver : — 

"Dat you, Mars Jones.?" 

" Me ? of course it 's me ! Who did you 
reckon it was ? " 

"I dunno. Mars Jones." 

100 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

" Well, you '11 know next time, if you 
don't keep them hogs o' yourn out of my 
corn. Why, that confounded old sow can 
destroy more corn in one night than you 
are worth." 

"Yes, Mars Jones, dat de trufe," meekly 
assented the old man. 

Mars Jones, warming to the subject, now 
waxed more and more eloquent over his 
grievances, until, having exhausted his pent 
up wrath, he had leisure to observe old 
Jerry's ashen face and shaking limbs, and 
he exclaimed : — 

" Why, what 's the matter with you ? are 
you sick } " 

"Yes, Mars Jones, I's been po'ly dis lib- 
long day, an' I 's gittin' sassifrax for to make 
me a little drap o' tea, I 's got sich a mis'ry." 

" Sassafras!" here broke in Mars Jones; 
and, good-natured, despite his roughness, 
he took from his pocket a tickler, and 
handing Jerry a dram, said : 

" Drink this, you old blockhead. Sassi- 
frax, indeed ! — what good you reckon sas- 
sifrax goin' do you t " 

With a scrape and a bow and a "Thank 

lOI 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

ye, Marster," the old man gulped down the 
dram, and Mars Jones, replacing his tickler, 
was turning away, when his foot slipped in 
something, and looking down he saw that 
it was blood. 

The dram had put so much heart into 
the old man that he was able to reply 
glibly to Mars Jones's questions. 

"It 's jes' wha' I 's been markin' hogs, 
Marster." 

"I don't believe you; I believe you've 
been kiUin' one of your master's hogs — 
that 's what you 've been at." 

But as this did not concern him, he did 
not wait to inquire further, and so, turning 
on his heel, he strode off. 

The hog-feeder, too, hastening away, 
took the shortest path back to his cart. 

The deserted barnyard lay silent in 
the white moonlight when the little cart 
creaked through the gate ; but up at the 
"great house" there were lights and move- 
ments where the family watched the coming 
of the boys. 

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday passed 
without tidings, and the hope that they had 

102 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

been caught by the rising water and im- 
prisoned upon some isolated knoll had been 
abandoned after the swamps had been 
searched in every direction. To add to 
the grief of the household, the master, al- 
ready enfeebled, now lay prostrated in a 
condition that almost forbade hope. 

Upon Sunday the waters began to abate, 
fences again appeared, and patches of 
drowned corn showed themselves above 
the wastes of water, to the no small joy 
of the flocks of blackbirds which chattered 
and fluttered amongst them. 

Mr. Jones, tired of the loneliness of his 
water-girt home, made his way to the 
meeting-house, more for the sake of a gossip 
with some of the neighbors than for the 
day's preaching, and it was there that he 
first heard the startling news of the unac- 
countable disappearance of Squire Brace's 
nephews. 

In the excitement, each man was eager 
to advance his own theory. The discussion 
ended, however, in the general opinion that 
their canoe had been swamped in the freshet 
and the boys drowned, until a newcomer 
103 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

asserted that the canoe, with Phil's overcoat 
still in it, had been found tied up at the 
Vine Ridge landing, and that their guns 
had been discovered hidden in the leaves 
at no great distance in the swamp. 

Upon hearing this, Mr. Jones could but 
call to mind his meeting with the hog- 
feeder, his strange behavior, and the blood 
upon the ground, and he at once jumped 
to the conclusion that old Jerry had been 
at least a party to some foul deed. His 
suspicions, once made known, became cer- 
tainties, and the whole party, hastily mount- 
ing their horses, rode off to the nearest 
justice, their convictions gaining ground so 
rapidly that, ere the house of the justice 
was reached, poor, simple old Jerry, the 
most harmless of God's creatures, had be- 
come in their estimation a villain of the 
deepest dye. 

Upon this identical Sunday morning the 
old hog-feeder betook himself to the little 
plantation church, whose bell, with cracked 
clamor, gave warning that preaching was 
about to begin. 

The frosty brightness of the past week 
104 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

had given place to a soft mist, through whose 
dimness the pale sunbeams looked sadly 
upon the autumnal world; and as the old 
man, dressed in his Sunday clothes, plodded 
along the path, the tiny crickets from be- 
neath the grass sent up their sad, perpetual 
dirge. 

Men and women, all shining with Sab- 
bath cleanness, came straggling toward the 
church, silently and soberly, without the 
usual light-hearted laughter, for the trouble 
at the " great house " was felt by all the 
little band. Yet their feelings were not with- 
out a mixture of pleasurable excitement, 
for all w^ere anticipating with gloomy satis- 
faction the lengthy prayers, the groanings, 
and the head-shakings upon this mournful 
day. 

The congregation had taken their seats, 
old Jethro had taken his place in the pulpit, 
the long-drawn cadence of the funeral hymn 
had floated sadly up to the *' great house," 
when a noise at the door startled the con- 
gregation, who, turning, beheld standing 
in the door a group of white men. Among 
them was the overseer, who, coming forward, 
105 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

announced that hog-feeder Jerry was to be 
arrested upon a charge of murder. " Not 
that I believe it, men," he said, "but the law 
must take its course." 

In the meantime two others had ap- 
proached the old man, who had already 
stumbled to his feet, and, while bowing in 
a dazed kind of way, kept murmuring, 
" Sarvent, Marsters." 

Handcuffs were put upon him, and amid 
a profound silence he was led forth and lifted 
into a cart. The two sheriffs took their 
places upon each side of him, and the cortege 
moved off. 

The people, having sufficiently recovered 
from their shock to jostle one another out 
of the building, stood huddled together like 
a flock of frightened sheep; but when the 
cavalcade had driven off, a subdued clamor 
of voices arose, all unanimous in contempt 
for "dese here po' white, who 'd ha' knowed 
better 'n to come meddlin' long o' Marster's 
folks ef Marster wan't down on de bed an' 
mos' like to die ! " 

That the dull and simple brain of the 
old man should have been capable of any 
io6 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

formulated plan is not to be imagined, and 
when upon the following day he was taken 
before the justice for examination, he mere- 
ly acted from an instinct of affection in 
shielding his young master, even at the 
risk of his own life. When questioned, he 
preserved an obstinate silence; then, when 
forced to speak, denied having seen either 
of the boys upon the day of their disappear- 
ance, but, when cross-questioned, admitted 
that he had seen Mars Phil in the Vine 
Ridge woods; and finally, when taxed 
with the blood upon the ground and with 
having hidden the guns, he reluctantly ad- 
mitted that " ef Mars Phil had been hurted " 
he had done it. 

"What did you do with the body?" ques- 
tioned the justice; " throw it in the river? " 

A murmur from the prisoner, which 
passed for assent, concluded the examina- 
tion, and the justice, sorely puzzled, com- 
mitted him to jail to await his trial. 

With the early morning, the country 

people had begun to gather around the 

courthouse, and when told that the old 

miscreant had actually confessed to the 

107 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

murder, their innate love of justice gave 
place to fierce anger; and when the pris- 
oner, gray with terror, bent and tottering, 
was led forth, he was surrounded by a silent 
but determined crowd, who, thrusting the 
sheriffs aside, seized and drove him before 
them, and had already slipped the noose 
about his neck, when an inarticulate shout 
caused the crowd to sway, — a horseman 
dashed into their midst and proclaimed 
that both boys were alive. Their disappear- 
ance had been explained on that morning 
by a letter forwarded by hand, which ran 
as follows : — 

On Board the Chieftain. 

Dear Uncle, — This afternoon, while 
hunting in the Vine Ridge woods, Phil's 
gun went off and wounded him in the side. 
I was at my wit's end what to do, when I 
heard the Chieftain blow up the river; so 
I tore off to the levee, where I was lucky 
enough to succeed in attracting Captain 
Smith's attention, who sent off a boat, and 
we managed to get Phil on board. I 
wanted Smith to put back to our landing, 
io8 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

but he thought the current too strong; and 
on the whole, I believe it is better for Phil 
to keep on to Hilton, as it would be impos- 
sible to get a doctor at home in this high 
water. Phil's hurt is not very serious, I hope. 
Your dutiful nephew, 

Harry Brace. 
• ••••••• 

On the day succeeding Harry's home- 
coming, he entered the room designated the 
"study," in which the Squire was usually 
to be found when indoors. 

The room probably owed the name of 
" study " to a set of Farmer s Magazines 
which, in all the dignity of expensive bind- 
ings, divided the shelf with a rather dam- 
aged edition of "The Turf Register," a 
" Farrier's Manual," a brace of antiquated 
medical works, and a stack of newspapers. 
Fishing tackle, a cupping apparatus, a set 
of engineering instruments, half a dozen 
ears of extra fine seed corn, medicine scales, 
and a huge cotton stock filled the rest of 
the bookcase. 

The Squire, seated before a blazing fire, 
in the lazy comforts of convalescence, with 
109 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

pipe and tobacco at his elbow, presented a 
not unenviable picture when contrasted with 
the wintry grayness outside. 

Harry, who had been greatly touched by 
the old hog-feeder's affectionate fidelity, now 
sought his uncle in order to beg that as a 
recompense he might be given his freedom. 

" Freedom ! " exclaimed the Squire ; " why, 
confound it, my dear boy, what would he 
do with freedom, if he had it? " 

*' I think he would like it," Harry mur- 
mured, a little sheepishly. 

" Why, he's as free as air now; a deuced 
sight freer than I am." 

Nevertheless Harry gained his point, 
and though the Squire growled, " You 
young jackanapes, you 've robbed me of 
the best hog-feeder on the river," still he was 
evidently pleased, and in the evening old 
Jerry was sent for. 

When, in answer to the summons, Jerry 
presented himself at the study door, his 
master said to him, with a stateliness fitted 
to the occasion : — 

"Jerry, I have sent for you to tell you 
that your young master here, as a reward 
no 



THE HOG-FEEDER'S DAY 

for your fidelity, desires to give you your 
freedom." 

Here the Squire paused, and Jerry, not 
knowing what else to say, said, " Yes, Mar- 
ster." 

Harry, standing by, was feeling rather 
wrought up, while the Squire, also some- 
what excited, continued : — 

" I will give you a house in the free settle- 
ment, out in the slashes, and your young 
master will always take care of you." 

Another rather disconcerting pause was 
broken by a second " Yes, Marster ; " and the 
old man, picking up his hat, shuffled out. 

The Squire glanced at Harry with a mis- 
chievous twinkle in his eyes, but the boy's 
face expressed such blank disappointment 
that he took pity upon him, and, picking 
up a newspaper, dismissed the matter. 

Upon the following evening a low knock 
was heard at the study door, then a fum- 
bling at the latch, and old Jerry once more 
stood upon the threshold. 

" Well, old man, what is it now ? " his mas- 
ter asked kindly. " Come, out with it ! " he 
repeated, as the old man, with a feeble grin, 
III 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

stood helplessly fingering his hat. " What 's 
the matter ? " 

And old Jerry, slowly scratching his head, 
made answer : — 

" Thank, Marster ; I 's come to ax Mars- 
ter what I done to 'splease Mars ? " 

" Displease me ! Why, what has put that 
notion into your head?" 

" I dunno, Mars, what I 's done, but I 's 
skeared Mars mout be set agin me, 'cause 
he say he gwine sen' me offen de planta- 
tion." 

Then Harry explained that he was to be 
set free, and eagerly enlarged upon the de- 
lights of liberty. The hog-feeder listened, 
but was unmoved : he obstinately declined 
to accept his freedom, his plea being that 
" the varments " would " 'stroy up his cree- 
turs " if he were not there to look after 
them. 

" De black sow, she got a fine litter o' 
pigs now, an' de foxes is a'ter 'em de 
blessed time." 

After this no more could be urged, and 
Jerry, scraping his foot, went out with a 
mind full of content. 




THE JUNIOR RESERVE 

;T was in the early summer of 
1864 that the family at Swan 
Manor was thrown off its bal- 
ance by the calling out of " The 
Junior Reserves." That unfledged boys, 
and among them their own little smooth- 
cheeked Billy, should be called upon to fill 
up the thinned and broken ranks of the 
Southern army filled their hearts with dis- 
may. The old Squire, with bushy brows 
beetling over his eyes, sat in grief too deep 
for words, a prey to the darkest forebodings. 
Miss Jemima had wept until her eyes were 
mere nothings, while her nose, coming gal- 
lantly to the front, had assumed an undue 
prominence. Kate, with her pretty lips 
drawn to keep down the rising sobs, tried 
all in vain to bestow upon her twin brother 
bright looks and smiles, ever before so ready 
and spontaneous. In the early secession 
days it had seemed such fun to ride to dress 
113 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

parade and toss bouquets to the laughing 
" boys in gray," while all the world played 
Dixie ! 

" Away down South in Dixie." 

How she and Billy had whispered and 
plotted, and how great the triumph when 
together they climbed the gate-post and, 
after much toil, successfully planted their 
little red and white flag! But now, alas ! all 
was changed, — they were fast getting to 
be grown-up people, and now her own dear 
Billy must go to help drive the Yankees 
out of Dixie. 

As for Billy himself, a suppressed but 
exultant grin shone upon his face, a trifle 
deprecating when in the presence of his 
grandfather or his tearful Aunt Jemima, 
but very jubilant despite these drawbacks. 
In truth this junior reserve was only too 
pleased to exchange the Latin grammar for 
the musket, and little cared he for prospec- 
tive harships, provided school were not 
among them. 

In the few busy days before the depar- 
ture, Kate followed Billy's footsteps, trying 
in vain to share his elation. " Good gracious, 
114 



THE JUNIOR RESERVE 

Kate," he would exclaim, when he discovered 
her furtively wiping her eyes with her little 
damp ball of a pocket handkerchief, "don't 
be such a little goose ; why, what would yoii 
have a fellow do ? I had no idea that you 
were that sort of a girl." Then, as between 
laughing and crying her face contorted it- 
self into a sort of spasmodic grin, he would 
say : " Now that 's right, that 's the way to do, 
if you '11 just cheer up, I '11 be all right; the 
Yankees '11 not bother me much, you bet." 

At the request of Serena (Billy's former 
nurse) her boy Cy was chosen to accompany 
his young master as body servant, one of 
his chief recommendations being that, nat- 
urally " skeary," he would be a safe com- 
panion ; also, as his mother proudly averred, 
he was the fastest runner upon the plan- 
tation. 

It was upon a golden evening in June 
that little Billy bade farewell to his home, 
Miss Jemima and Kate going with him to 
the little wayside station. Cy, gotten up 
in great style, followed, while the rear was 
brought up by a motley procession, — all 
eager for the honor of carrying some of the 
115 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

belongings. The Squire, with Don the old 
Irish setter, stood in the doorway until 
Billy passed out of sight; then the two 
together, the old man and the old dog, went 
back into the silent house. 

The path to the station wound its way 
through a field of ripening wheat, from 
whence the clear whistle of a partridge 
smote sharply though the fervid air. Billy 
paused, and, pointing to a tangle of black- 
berry, exclaimed : " There 's a nest there 
as sure as shooting, and I '11 go there to- 
mor — " A quick catching of the breath cut 
short the unfinished words, and the boy, 
with lips slightly drawn, quickened his pace. 
Kate, choking down her sobs, held his hand 
in her tight clasp, as she kept pace with his 
hurried step. Miss Jemima, steadying her 
voice, remarked with a sprightly air that 
there would be fine shooting when he 
should come back in the autumn. Then 
the little station came into view, looking 
very empty and deserted ; two men loading 
a flat car were the only living objects to be 
seen. They paused in their work to greet 
Billy, and ask where he was off to. It seemed 
ii6 



THE JUNIOR RESERVE 

so strange a thing to Kate that all the world 
did not know. 

The train was not on time, and the wait- 
ing became so painful that it was almost 
with gladness that they heard the warning 
whistle far down the track. A small crowd 
had gradually collected, and some one re- 
marked : *' She 's blowin' for the bridge. 
It'll be ten minutes before she's here." 
To the tumultuously throbbing hearts of 
the little party it was a positive relief when 
a puff of smoke was seen and the engine 
came rushing around the bend. Then there 
were hurried kisses; the bell clanged, a 
voice called out, " All aboard," and the train 
was off. " Gone, gone, gone," Kate repeated 
over and over to herself, as she gazed with 
tearless eyes into the dim distance of the 
now silent track. 

As the party retraced their steps home- 
ward the partridge was still calling his 
cheerful " Bob White " from amid the wheat, 
while from the shadowy depth of a laurel 
thicket came the sweet gurgle of the wood- 
thrush. 

In the late summer, news — glorious 
117 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

news — came that the foe had been driven 
back, and their boy was unhurt. 

Later, a man from the front at home on 
furlough was heard to say that " Billy 
Swan was a regular trump, and had borne 
himself like a veteran." Kate walked elate, 
saying the words over and over, with a proud 
smile, "A hero, a regular trump," — he, her 
own dear Billy. The old Squire, too, with 
ill-concealed pride in his boy, was once more 
like his former self. 

Happy days — brief, hopeful days ! Alas, 
alas ! Many Junes have come and gone since 
little Billy was laid to rest in the old bury- 
ing-ground, close to the wheat-field where 
the partridge calls, calls, the long day 
through. June roses scatter their leaves 
above him, and when the sun drops low, with 
long golden shafts upon the green mound 
which covers him, from far down in the 
laurel thicket comes the liquid gurgle of 
the wood-thrush. Kate looks into faces, 
once frank and bright, and full of youth 
and hope, now grown old and seamed with 
care, and she tells herself that " whom the 
gods love, die young." 




MAMMY 

|W0 little snub noses were flat- 
tening themselves against the 
nursery window pane, while 
the four eager eyes watched 
the soft flakes whirling through the air and 
silently descending upon the whitening 
earth. 

" Sposen we was to steal out," whispered 
the boy, " an' hide, so Mammy couldn't 
never find us no more." 

An excited chuckle interrupted the fur- 
ther development of this deliciously lawless 
scheme ; but, though the little sister caught 
the infection, she prudently turned from 
the tempting prospect, saying, " No, Sed, 
I 's 'fraid you might git the croups an' 
die." 

The other occupants of the room were a 

little roly-poly cherub of a girl, seated in a 

tiny chair, holding in her arms a rag baby, 

which she rocked and dangled in servile 

119 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

imitation of her mammy, who, with bump- 
ings peculiar to the nursery chair, was 
rocking to sleep a still younger babe. A 
fair little maiden, curled up comfortably 
upon a cushion, the firelight glistening 
upon her yellow locks, bent over a book, 
from which she read, in high-pitched, child- 
ish voice, to her mammy, the story of " El- 
len Lynn." Mammy was very proud that 
her nursling could read, and would cast ad- 
miring looks upon the child as she bent 
over her book, with finger pointing to each 
word. Both were absorbed in the story, 
and every picture was examined with 
scrupulous care. 

Another occupant of the nursery was 
"Chany," the under nursemaid. Gawky, 
sleek, and black, she sat flat upon the floor, 
her large, well-shod feet turned to the fire, 
a picture of lazy, vacant content. 

" Ch-Ch-Chany," stuttered Mammy, "look 
in de top drawer an' git a hankcher and 
blow dat chile's nose. Go on wid yo book, 
honey; Mammy ain't goin' 'sturb you no 
mo." 

" Mr. Lynn left the sleigh, and turning 

120 



MAMMY 

from the island" — piped little Caroline. 
Then there came another prolonged snuf- 
fle from Sedley. 

"You Ch-Ch-Chany, why 'n't you git 
dat hankcher ? " caused that languid maiden 
to bestir herself. Having fumbled in the 
drawer for the handkerchief, she approached 
the window, but no sooner did the little boy 
become aware of her intention than, with a 
rebellious shake of his curly head, he buried 
his nose in his little chapped fists, and, re- 
gardless of Sibyl's advice, that he had better 
be good, he firmly stood his ground, deter- 
mined to resist Chany to the death. 

" He ain't gwine let me tetch him," said 
Chany, feebly dabbing at him with the 
handkerchief. 

" Do, pray, gal, don't be so no-'count," 
Mammy answered. Then Chany, stung by 
the imputation, made another helpless dive; 
a scuffle ensued, in which she was utterly 
routed, and the victorious Sedley threw 
himself upon Mammy's lap. 

" Gi' me de hankcher," said Mammy, 
with an air of withering contempt. " There, 
now, you done woke up your little brother," 

121 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

she said, when, the nose being blown, she 
again returned to trying to jolt baby Joe to 
sleep. " He jest had drapped off into a 
doze." 

" Oh, chilluns, le 's pop some corn ! " 
Chany now exclaimed. " Here 's a whole 
sight of it," she went on, as she searched a 
basket, which she had unearthed from the 
closet. 

" Oh ! pop corn ! " shouted Sedley and 
Sibyl, running, and each seizing an ear. 

" Oh ! pop torn ! " echoed the cherub, 
throwing down her rag baby. So the 
shovel was run into the ashes, and Chany 
and the three little ones set to work to 
shell the corn. 

Quiet was again restored, and Caroline, 
who, all through the hubbub, had kept her 
finger faithfully upon "island," continued 
her reading. 

Mammy now substituted a sideways 
movement of the knees for the more vig- 
orous bumping of the chair, and baby Joe 
— lying luxuriously upon her wide lap — 
gazed dreamily into the glowing coals upon 
the hearth, until gradually the white lids 

122 



MAMMY 

drooped over the blue eyes, and he slept. 
The nursery was very quiet now. The 
corn-poppers were intent upon their work, 
and Mammy, soothed by the unwonted still- 
ness, listened drowsily to the little reader 
until fresh interest was excited by the fol- 
lowing words. 

" The men were now still more alarmed," 
read Caroline. " Farmer Lynn said that he 
would go with them and see what had be- 
come of Mr. Lynn and Annie. The whole 
party accordingly went back to the river. 
After searching about for some time, one of 
the rnen espied something black on the sur- 
face of the snow, at a great distance down 
the river. They all proceeded to the spot, 
and were dreadfully shocked on arriving 
there to find that the black spot was a part 
of Mr. Lynn's arm and that his body was 
beneath, frozen, and buried up in the snow." 

When Mammy heard these words, she 
threw up her arms, and exclaimed, " Lord, 
have mercy 'pon my soul ! What ! Mr. Lynn 
hisself?" 

To her imagination Mr. Lynn was a most 
real person. The book was now brought 
123 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

to her, and she, with Httle Caroline, looked 
with deep and mournful interest at the pic- 
ture of the empty sleigh. 

" It certainly is a awful country to live 
in; seem like it ain't fitten for a dog, much 
less white folks. To think o' Mr. Lynn his- 
self bein' froze to death. Well ! well ! well ! 
It certainly was onexpected." 

The children's story books furnished 
Mammy with many thoughts. Among them 
was a set of German nursery tales, full of 
quaint colored pictures, in which she took 
especial pleasure. Seated by the nursery 
fire, the baby asleep in his crib and the 
others out at play, she would turn the leaves 
feeling that each picture was a living por- 
trait. Slovenly Peter, Rocking Phillip, and 
Greedy Jacob were her favorites. Once 
when shown a pretzel, she exclaimed, " Ef 
it ain 't the very thing what Jacob had in 
his hand when he busted," and, taking the 
pretzel in her hand, she contemplated it 
with a thoughtful and sentimental air. 

The nursery door was now burst open, 
and in rushed Harry, bringing with him a 
blast of fresh cold air ; black Ned came too, 
124 



MAMMY 

and both brought upon their feet enough 
snow to cover the carpet with moist tracks. 

" You Ne-Ne-Ned, ain 't you got no mo' 
manners than to be a-tracking up de house 
dis way? Go 'long out and clean your 
feet;" but the hubbub was too great for 
Mammy's words to be heeded; pig-tails 
were being brandished aloft, and the child- 
ren all clustered round Harry and Ned, 
asking questions and clamoring for pig- 
tails. 

"Look!" said Harry. "Here's somefin 
better 'n pig-tails," and he drew from his 
pocket the mangled remains of a dozen or 
more snow-birds. 

A scramble now ensued, and Sibyl — 
having secured as many as she wanted 
— retired to a corner, and silently fell to 
plucking them, while Sedley, who was as 
vainglorious as a Comanche, capered about 
on his short legs, and boasted of imaginary 
exploits with trap and dead-fall. 

Caroline looked on, half pleased and half 
disgusted, keeping herself clear of contact. 

" Miss Calline she too proud to tetch pig- 
tails," grinned Chany. 
125 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

" 'F cose she is," Mammy answered, bri- 
dling. She was very vain of Miss Caroline's 
daintiness. 

The baby was now laid in his crib. 
Chany was dispatched for salt and pepper ; 
the shovel was again run into the ashes, 
pig-tails were placed delicately upon the 
coals, and the nursery, pervaded with the 
various odors of wet shoes, burnt corn, fried 
grease, etc., was given up to disorder and 
cooking, into which Mammy threw herself 
with as much zest as did the children. The 
pig-tails were broiled to a turn, and the 
small birds were frizzling away upon the 
shovel, when Sedley, taking advantage of 
his opportunity, made a rush for the door, 
opened it, and was outside, with mouth 
and hands full of snow. Before Mammy's 
vigilant eye had noted his escape, he was 
flying back in triumph, with a big ball in 
his fist, when she met him and, with dex- 
terous grasp, wrenched it from him. 

" Di-di-did anybody ever see your match!'* 
she exclaimed as she hurled the ball into 
the fire. " I clar I 's got a good mind to 
take you right straight to your ma." 
126 



MAMMY 

But Sedley knew the value of such 
threats and soon wiggled himself out of 
her grasp. 

" Da now, go' long an' 'have yourself," she 
said, with admiring fondness, as he laughed 
and capered away from her. 

" Honey, what is you a-doin ? " she now 
inquired of Sibyl, who, with hot cheeks, was 
bending over a pile of coals. "Cookin' a 
bird? Let me do it, — you's a-burnin' your 
little face clean to a cracklin'." 

" No, Mammy, I 'm cookin' my bird for 
grandma," the child answered, rejecting all 
help, " an' I 'm goin' to do it all by my- 
self." 

"Wh', baby honey, your gran'ma ain't 
comin' before Christmas eve, an' dat 's a 
week off. Your bird ain't goin' keep all 
dat time, but ne' mine, I '11 make Ned 
ketch you another one." 

Upon Christmas Eve, the children might 
have been seen at the big gate, straining 
their eyes down the road, each hoping to 
be the first to see their grandmother's car- 
riage. Visions of waxen dolls, sugar-plums, 
127 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

and other vague delights imparted a double 
zest to her arrival, — to say nothing of 
Uncle Robin (the driver) who, in the esti- 
mation of the little boys, was of far greater 
importance than was their grandmother. 
To them he was an oracle of wisdom, and 
their delight was to follow him about the 
stable lot or to sit in the sunshine and 
hang upon his words ; for his imagination 
was fertile, and the boys would listen with 
wonder to the tales of his prowess and skill 
with horses. Something was now observed 
to be moving far down the road, which 
soon proved to be the carriage. Yes, there 
were " Phoenix" and "Peacock," which no 
one but Uncle Robin could handle, and 
there sat Uncle Robin upon the box, and 
there was grandma inside, smiling and 
waving her handkerchief, and there, too, 
sat Aunt Polly, grandma's maid. 

The carriage stopped, and Uncle Robin, 
bowing and smiling, descended and opened 
the door, and they all scrambled in and 
were hugged and kissed, and Polly ad- 
mired their beauty and exclaimed at their 
growth. Then the door was clapped to 
128 



MAMMY 

again, but not before Harry had managed 
to slip out and clamber to the box beside 
Uncle Robin, who, having driven through 
the gate, handed him the reins, with a 
caution to keep his eye upon Peacock. In 
the estimation of the boy, this sleek and 
overfed Peacock seemed little less than a 
raging lion whom only Uncle Robin could 
quell. 

" He 'II run in a minute, if he gits a 
chance," said the guileful Uncle Robin. 
So Harry clutched the reins and drove 
proudly past the lot, in full view of some 
of the men, turned in at the yard gate, and 
drew up before the door. 

Grandma could not wait for the hang- 
ing of the Christmas stockings, but in- 
sisted upon opening her trunk at once, 
and displaying her gifts to the children's 
delighted eyes. The wax babies exceeded 
their wildest hopes. The house was made 
horrible with horns and drums. Mammy 
laughed and showed her dimples and cour- 
tesied over her own gorgeous present, and 
all felt that Christmas had really come. 

For several days, indeed, throughout the 
129 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

holidays, Harry felt that he had left child- 
hood far behind him, and, as he strutted 
about the stable yard, he now and then ex- 
pectorated, in imitation of Uncle Robin, 
as though he had a quid in his mouth. 

Aunt Polly, though far inferior to Uncle 
Robin in the children's estimation, was 
yet a person of distinction, and no naughti- 
ness was ever displayed when she was by 
to witness it. 

Mammy usually enjoyed a gossip with 
Aunt Polly over the nursery fire. But, 
sometimes feelings of coolness would arise. 
Polly belonged to the family of the mother 
of the children, while Mammy came from 
that of the father, and between the two a 
slight rivalry had always existed as to the 
superiority of her own white children. 

" 'T is a pity Miss Calline's back 's so 
round," said Polly one night as the child- 
ren were being undressed. 

Now, if there was a feature in which 
Mammy took a pride, it was in the straight- 
ness of the children's limbs and the flatness 
of their backs, above all the limbs and 
backs in the other branches of the family ; 
130 



MAMMY 

so, firing up at once, she replied that she 
would like to see a flatter back than "this 
here one," laying her hand upon Caro- 
line's. 

"Miss Emmaline's is a sight flatter," 
Polly stoutly maintained. " She 's got as 
pretty shape as ever I see, — all our peo- 
ple 's got good shapes from old Missis 
down. I reckon this chile 's got her back 
from her pa's fambly." When Polly said 
this, Mammy felt that the gauntlet had 
been flung down, and, at once, with an elo- 
quence all her own, so defended the "shapes" 
of her "fambly" that Polly was fairly beaten 
in the war of words, and was forced to ad- 
mit, with many apologies, that Miss Car- 
oline's back was as flat as Miss Emma- 
line's. 

Mammy accepted the apology with some 
hauteur, and it was several days before en- 
tire cordiality was reestablished ; in fact, 
in all her after life, Mammy would, when 
in certain moods, hark back to "dat time 
when dat long-mouthed Polly had de im- 
perdence to say dat our folks' backs were n't 
as straight as hern." 

131 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

Full of peaceful content were the lives 
of both whites and blacks. Merrily the 
Christmas went by, to be followed by 
others as merry, and the winters and sum- 
mers came and went, turning childhood 
into maturity and maturity into old age. 
Mammy's glory reached its zenith when, at 
" Miss Calline's " grand wedding, she herself 
rustled about in all the grandeur of a new 
black silk and Polly was forever squelched. 
The whole world seemed full of prosperity, 
abundance, and careless happiness, when 
suddenly, like a thunderbolt, the war came. 

The plantation home was abandoned 
very carelessly, and with light hearts the 
family drove away, expecting nothing but 
to return with the frosts of winter. They 
refugeed to a farmhouse upon the out- 
skirts of a little up-country village. 

Sedley, though still a beardless youth, 
shouldered his musket, and took his place 
in the ranks. Sibyl and her mother, in the 
little rude farmhouse, thought not of their 
lost splendor, but cheerfully looked for the 
good days sure to come when, the war over, 
the dear ones would come back, and the 
132 



MAMMY 

old times. Every Southern woman knows 
how it was when the great battles were 
fought and a trembling, white-lipped group 
of women and aged men would stand hud- 
dled together to hear what the midnight 
dispatches might have in store for them. 

In the little upland village the refugees 
were closely knit together by hopes and 
fears in common. When sorrow fell upon 
one household the little community all 
mourned. But if the wires brought glad 
words that all at the front were unharmed, 
there would come a period of happy reac- 
tion ; the little society would be wildly gay, 
especially if one or more young heroes 
from the front had come home with a 
slight wound, — just enough to make a 
demigod of him. 

Such was Sedley's happy fate one never- 
to-be-forgotten summer, when every girl in 
the village fell madly in love with his blue 
eyes and his gray coat and his mustache 
and his lovely voice, as he strummed the 
guitar in the moonlight, — and most of all 
with his merry laugh. Did time permit, I 
might tell of such odd costumes, such 
133 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

make-ups of homespun and lace, fine old 
silks and calicoes, in which the Dixie girls 
danced so merrily. 

It was just upon the heels of one of these 
happy seasons that a rumor was whispered 
that the army was about to fall back and 
that the offices and stores would be removed 
in consequence. At first the rumor was re- 
jected, — no good Confederate would listen 
to such treason; but finally the croakers 
were proved to be right. The government 
stores were hastily removed. The office- 
holders took a sad farewell of those whom 
they left behind them, and the little town 
was abandoned to its fate, outside the Con- 
federate lines. 

Sibyl and her mother were among the 
tearful group who watched the little band 
of departing friends, as it passed out of the 
town, waved a last adieu, and strained their 
dimmed eyes for a last sight of the Confed- 
erate gray, ere they went sadly back to their 
homes. 

When Sibyl and her mother reached 
home, they found Mammy already at work. 
She had ripped open a feather bed, and 
134 



MAMMY 

amid its downy depths she was burying 
whatever she could lay her hands upon. 
Clothing, jewelry, even a china ornament 
or two, — all went in. It was a day or two 
after that Rita complained of a great knot 
in her bed, which had bruised her back 
and prevented her sleeping. Mammy 
heard her, but, waiting until they w^ere 
alone, said in a half whisper, " Honey, I 
knows w^hat dat knot is, 't ain't nothin' but 
your brother's cavalry boots that I hid in 
the bed. I reckon the feathers has got 
shuck down. Don't say nothin', an' I '11 
turn your bed over, and then you won't 
feel 'em. An', honey, do pray be kereful 
how you talks before Jim. I ain't got no 
'pinion o' Jim, an' it '11 never do in de 
world to let him speck where the things is 
hid." 

No one knew how soon the Yankees 
might come, and all were busily engaged 
in concealing whatever they had of value. 
People may smile now at some of the recol- 
lections of that day, but they were earnest 
enough then, and as much importance was 
attached to the concealment of a ham or a 
135 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

pound of black sugar as to that of a cas- 
ket of diamonds. Clothing and provisions 
were hidden in various strange and out- 
of-the-way places, and, when night came, 
Mammy and her mistress were glad to rest 
their tired bodies, although too much excited 
to sleep. At last, however, a deep sleep fell 
upon them, from which they were awak- 
ened by the distant roar of cannon. The 
village, though no longer a depot for Con- 
federate stores, was not to be given up with- 
out a struggle. It now became a sort of 
debatable ground, and cannonading, more 
or less distant, told the anxious listeners of 
almost daily skirmishes. 

Awakened by the cannon's roar, Sibyl 
opened the window and listened. A pale 
glory to the eastward, a low rustle of leaves, 
a drowsy chirp from tiny nests, all merging 
into one inarticulate murmur of awakening 
nature, told that night was over. Sibyl and 
her mother hastily dressed themselves, called 
Rita from her fearless young sleep, roused 
up the baby, as they still called little Joe ; 
then asked themselves why they did it. 
There was nothing to do but to sit on the 
136 



MAMMY 

porch or to wander aimlessly, listening with 
beating hearts to the faint and more faint 
boom of the artillery. And the roses glowed 
in the May sunshine, and the honeysuckle 
wafted its perfume in at the open windows, 
and the bees droned among the flowers, and 
all was so peaceful, but for the incessant 
dull roar of the battle. 

The Confederates were finally driven 
back, the Federals entered the town, and 
then the bummers came streaming through 
the country, leaving desolation behind them. 
Cattle, poultry, everything eatable was 
driven off or carried away in the great 
army wagons that came crashing along, re- 
gardless of all obstacles in their cruel course. 
Cut off from all news from the army, Sibyl 
and her mother dragged wearily through 
the long, sad summer, and the two children 
grew gaunt for want of nourishing food. 

It was a morning in the early autumn 
that Sibyl, sitting at work by an open win- 
dow, became suddenly conscious of an un- 
usual presence near her, and, looking up, 
beheld a man gazing fixedly upon her. A 
party of Federals had that very morning 
137 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

visited the house upon a pretended search 
for concealed weapons, and the girl, with 
nerves still vibrating with terror, uttered a 
little shriek, and, starting up, was about to 
close the window, when the figure leaped 
over the low sill, a pair of strong arms 
encircled her, kisses fell upon her lips, and, 
ere the shriek of terror could find voice, 
she recognized, under the rough country- 
man's hat, the laughing eyes of her brother 
Sedley. 

Such meetings can be better imagined 
than described; seconds had become min- 
utes ere Sibyl or her mother could begin 
to realize their joy, which, in its first in- 
tensity, was almost pain. Then came the 
breathless questionings as to the well-being 
of the other dear ones, then the deep sigh 
of thankfulness irom the long-burdened 
hearts. 

At the sound of a strange voice. Mammy, 
peeping in at the open door, had fallen 
prostrate with joy, and, while hugging her 
boy to her faithful bosom, had called upon 
her Maker to testify that upon this very 
morning the scissors had stuck up twice. 

138 



MAMMY 

" An' I knowed when dey done dat, dat 
somebody was a-comin.' " 

Then Dinah, the cook, came in, courtesy- 
ing and laughing and loyal as though no 
emancipating army had set foot in Dixie. 

When the joyful tidings had reached the 
children, Rita's thin legs might have been 
seen flying through the high grass. The 
more practical Joe toiled behind, bending 
under the burden of (their treasure trove) 
a big pumpkin, a basket of persimmons, 
and a few stalks of sorghum, for, like the 
Scriptural colts of the wild ass, they passed 
their time in searching after every green 
thing. 

In the magnetism of the bright pre- 
sence of the young soldier, all the sad fore- 
bodings seemed to vanish into thin air. 
While listening to his brave words of hope, 
they forgot that the sunny hours of this 
most happy day were hastening by. Al- 
ready the shadows lay long upon the grass, 
and there remained yet so much to be 
said and so little time wherein to say it! 
By set of sun Sedley must be on his way 
to rejoin his command. His brief and dar- 
139 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

ing visit had been achieved by his assum- 
ing a disguise before venturing inside the 
enemy's lines. 

" How did you ever manage it ? " asked 
the mother. " I tremble when I think of it." 

" Oh," he answered, " it was easy enough. 
I came in with a fellow who was driving 
cattle into town." 

" Oh, Sed ! " his sister whispered ; " you 
ran an awful risk; how will you manage to 
get back without being discovered ? " 

" There '11 be no trouble about that," he 
answered. " Don't you and mother go and 
worry yourselves about me. I '11 be all 
right, so cheer up and don't look so dole- 
ful." 

Urged on by fear, they now almost hur- 
ried him away, and Mammy, while filling 
his haversack with provisions, entreated 
him to be careful. 

" De ain't no tellin' what dem Yankees 
would do ef dey once clapt hands on you." 

Sedley might guess shrewdly enough 
what his fate would be in such case, but 
he replied, with his old boyish laugh, that 
it was his trade to outrun the Yankees. 
140 



MAMMY 

" Never fear, Mammy," he said at part- 
ing. " Trust me to beat 'em at that game." 

Then the sad good-byes were said, and 
manfully he strode down the little path, 
turning only once to wave a last good-by 
to the sorrowful group on the broad front 
porch, who watched till he passed out of 
sight. 

The night was spent in anxious watch- 
ing, but confidence returned with the morn- 
ing, and all again settled back to their 
employments and amusements. Sybil wan- 
dered into the parlor, and, sitting down to 
the piano, sang in a low, sweet voice some 
of the pathetic war melodies. The "colts 
of the wild ass seeking after every green 
thing " had sought the sorghum patch, and 
Mammy had taken a basket into the garden 
for a final gathering of sage leaves. The 
day was dreamy, as only an October day of 
the South can be. The tempered sunlight, 
streaming softly through the filmy autum- 
nal mist, threw a veil of loveliness over the 
homeliest objects ; the old gray fences, the 
russet fields, the lonely pastures, where 
from beneath the grass roots the tiny 
141 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

crickets chanted their low, sweet dirge the 
long day through, the cawing of the crows 
from a distant treetop, all told in notes of 
most harmonious pathos that " the fashion 
of this world passeth away." 

As Mammy, with back stiffened from 
stooping, raised herself for a moment's rest, 
she saw Jim lounge into the back yard and 
speak to Dinah. Mammy had but little use 
for Jim in general, but now she felt anxious 
to know what had been going on in the vil- 
lage, and for that reason she left her basket 
among the sage and went near to hear what 
he was saying. As she drew near, Dinah 
suddenly threw up her hands, and, starting 
from the hencoop on which she had been 
leaning, came towards her, stuttering and 
stammering in a manner so excited as to 
be unintelligible. 

" What 's dat you say ? For God's sake, 
ooman, say what yere got to say, an' be 
done wid it ! " said Mammy, too fright- 
ened to be patient. Jim then drew near 
to her and, glancing cautiously towards 
the not very distant piazza, upon which 
his mistress happened at the moment to 
142 



MAMMY 

be standing, he whispered, " Dey 's done 
ketched him." 

" K-k-ketched who ?" stammered Mammy 
fiercely. 

"Mas' Sedley, dat's who," Jim answered 
doggedly. 

" How you know ? I don't b'lieve a word 
on it." 

"Anyhow, dey's done done it." 

" Ho' come you know so much 'bout it ? " 

" 'Cause I seen 'em when dey done it." 

" Y-y-you have de face to stan' da an' 
tell me dat you seen 'em a-troublin' dat 
chile an' you not lif a han' to help him } " 

" How I gwine help him ? G' long, you 
don't know what you talkin' 'bout." 

" Whar'bouts did dey come across him .?" 
Mammy inquired. 

" Right down yonder at de mill," Jim an- 
swered, nodding his head in the direction. 

" Good Lord," exclaimed Mammy, " dey 
must 'a' ketched him directly after he went 
away ! " 

This conversation was carried on in such 
low murmurings that even a listener at a 
short distance could not have distinguished 
143 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

what was said ; the three were very intent, 
but did not omit occasional cautious glances 
in the direction of the house. 

" Dat 's so," Jim replied ; " an' den dey 
shet him up in de mill house, and den I 
never seed no mo', 'cause I was skeered an' 
runned away." 

Then, after an uneasy pause, he added, 
*' I come 'long dat-a-way soon dis mornin','' 
and here he murmured so low into Mam- 
my's ear that Dinah, though she stretched 
her neck, could not catch the word, which 
turned Mammy's brown face to ashen gray. 
She stood for a minute like one turned to 
stone, then staggered to her own doorstep. 
Sitting down, she buried her head in her 
apron, and so sat motionless for half an 
hour, while Jim and Dinah continued their 
guarded murmurings by the hencoop. At 
the end of half an hour she rose, took a 
bunch of keys from her pocket, went into 
her house and, closing the door behind her, 
unlocked her chest. Drawing from it a 
little workbox, which had, in years gone by, 
been one of Caroline's cherished Christ- 
mas gifts, she opened it. From beneath her 
144 



MAMMY 

Sunday pocket handkerchief, and a few 
other articles of special value, she produced 
another and smaller box which she opened, 
and, taking from it a gold coin, looked at it 
tenderly. 

" Po' little fellow ! God bless him ! he 
give me this that fus' time he come home 
from school. I never 'spected to part with 
it, but ef it's de Lord's will, it may help him 
now." 

With these thoughts. Mammy quickly 
replaced the things in her chest, put the 
coin into her pocket, and, taking up the 
man's hat, which upon week days she al- 
ways wore, she strode off towards the mill. 

As she passed by the piazza, she paused 
one moment irresolute, but murmuring to 
herself, " 'T ain't no use upsettin' Mistis, 
po' cretur, and I can do it better by myself 
anyhow," she walked briskly forward, re- 
volving in her mind her plan. 

The mill house consisted of two rooms, 
and in the one in which Jim had reported 
Sedley to be confined there was a small trap- 
door. It had been used for regulating the 
working of the machinery, and led from be- 
145 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

neath the house directly to the creek, which 
ran close to the walls of the house. This trap 
Mammy had once happened to see opened, 
and in that way knew of its existence, oth- 
erwise she would never have suspected it, 
as, from its infrequent use, it was usually 
covered with dust and dirt and could not 
be distinguished from the rest of the floor. 
Her plan was to endeavor to get speech 
with Sedley, tell him of the trap-door, and 
leave the rest to him. Her great fear had 
been that she might be refused admit- 
tance to him, and hence it was that she 
had thought of her gold piece, as she hoped 
by its potent influence to be given a few 
minutes alone with the prisoner. 

There would be no great difficulty for 
Sedley to lift the trap without noise and, 
when it was lifted, to swing himself through 
to the ground, to creep until he came to the 
thick tangle upon the creek banks, then to 
swim across and escape into the shelter of 
the woods beyond. That would be sim- 
ple enough, and Mammy, full of hopeful 
thoughts, was walking briskly forward, 
when suddenly a turn in the path brought 
146 



MAMMY 

• 

into view a small body of Federals, all 
mounted, and evidently coming from the 
direction of the mill. They seemed in haste, 
and she could hear the rattle of their sabres 
as they cantered by. 

Standing amid the broom-sedge, Mammy 
watched them, casting eager, anxious looks 
upon them, fearing, dreading to see her boy 
in their midst, a poor, defenseless captive. 
Finally, as the last horseman disappeared, 
she heaved a sigh of infinite relief. " Bless 
de good Lord, dey ain't took de po' chile 
wid 'em," and so went on her way. 

At length the gray gables of the little 
mill house came into view, and Mammy, 
feeling in her pocket to assure herself that 
the gold piece was safe at hand, went boldly 
forward, telling herself that, if she spoke 
politely, the Yankee guard would not shoot 
her. So she went on until the little mill 
came into full view, but with no guard or 
any other object to inspire fear. All seemed 
quiet, and the place quite deserted. There 
were footprints about the door, and broken 
bushes showed the trampling of both men 
and horses, but now all was very quiet. 
H7 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

The old mill house looked very peaceful, 
with the yellow autumnal sun shining 
upon its moss-grown roof, with no sound 
to break the deep silence, save the low, 
continuous warbling of a solitary mocking- 
bird which, perched upon an overhanging 
bough, seemed to review its past joys in 
low, sweet notes of retrospection. 

Upon seeing that the place was quite 
deserted. Mammy paused, and, after look- 
ing around to satisfy herself that this was 
really the case, ascended the steps and, lift- 
ing the latch of the door, looked into the 
outer room. 

" Thank God ! " she murmured, upon 
finding it empty. " Thank God ! dey 's all 
took deyselves off to town an' lef him here, 
locked up by hisself. It raly is 'stonishin' 
to think how foolish dem creturs is; dey 
mout ha' knowed as someon' would ha' 
come an' let him loose." 

While thus thinking, she had crossed 
the room, and was now endeavoring to 
open the door, which gave admittance 
to the inner and larger apartment. Find- 
ing, as she had anticipated, that this door 
148 



MAMMY 

was fastened, she first called to the pris- 
oner within, and, when no answer was re- 
turned, she shook the door until at length 
the crazy old lock gave way and the door 
creaked slowly back upon its rusty hinges. 
" Honey, whar'bouts is you ? " Mammy 
questioned, as, pausing upon the thresh- 
old, she peered into the obscurity be- 
yond. The windowless room was dark, and 
Mammy, after again calling, groped her 
way in, straining her eyes into the gloom, 
but unable to discern any object. Then, 
suddenly, the deep silence and the gloom 
smote upon her senses, and a great horror 
came over her. She turned to rush from 
the room, when her eyes, grown more ac- 
customed to the darkness, fell upon an 
object which froze the lifeblood in her 
veins. It lay almost at her feet. She 
stooped and bent over it, with thick, la- 
boring breath. Very still it lay, with set 
white face and wide-open, unseeing eyes. 




WAR REMINISCENCES 

REMEMBER when Wheel- 
er's cavalry passed through 
town that the men, when 
halted, just dropped in the 
streets and slept, so that passers-by were 
forced to step over them, but in spite of 
starvation and weariness the old indomita- 
ble spirit would assert itself. One of the 
poor fellows, while the column was passing 
by Christ Church, looked up at the weather- 
cock and remarked to a comrade that it was 
the first and only instance of Wheeler's boys 
seeing a chicken which they could not get at. 
We were singularly fortunate in the 
neighborhood of Raleigh in having no lack 
of wholesome food, and in being able to 
send boxes of provisions to the army around 
Petersburg. We, in particular, were plenti- 
fully supplied from the plantation, a four- 
horse wagon being constantly engaged in 
hauling supplies. 

150 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

One of the greatest taxes upon our re- 
sources, and the event that brought the war 
very closely home to us, was the advent of 
the cavalcade and ambulances referred to in 
my notes concerning My Own Early Home. 

Most of the horsemen who had come 
with the ambulances returned to the front 
the next morning, leaving behind them six 
or more sick and wounded, with their sur- 
geon and friends to look after them. For- 
tunately, the office in the yard (a house 
with two comfortable rooms) was easily 
made ready and the wounded men were in- 
stalled in the quarters which they kept for 
a month. The wound which afterwards de- 
prived one of the wounded, a young man 
by the name of Nat Butler, of his arm, was 
by far the most serious. The attempt to 
save the arm came very near costing him 
his life. Instead of healing, the wound con- 
stantly sloughed, with great loss of blood. 
As the wound was between the elbow and 
the shoulder, the danger attending amputa- 
tion increased with each sloughing, but the 
poor boy was deaf to all that his doctor 
could urge, positively refusing to have the 
151 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

arm amputated, and he grew weaker and 
weaker with every hemorrhage. Meantime 
several of the sick and wounded were so 
far cured as to be able to return to duty. 
Captain Butler (an older brother of Nat 
Butler), Dr. Thompson, Mr. Taylor, and 
several others whose names I have forgot- 
ten, and the bugler, named Glanton, still 
remained. One morning, while I was in the 
mealroom getting out dinner, I heard Cap- 
tain Butler's voice calling loudly that young 
Butler was bleeding to death. I just took 
time to call out to my daughters, Annie and 
Kate, who were just starting to town, to drive 
as quickly as they could to Dr. Johnson's and 
to ask him to come. Then I ran down to 
the office, where I found the poor old cap- 
tain frantic with terror and quite unable to 
do anything for the patient, who lay sense- 
less and bleeding upon the bed. I can never 
forget his ghastly appearance ; I never saw 
so bloodless a face. The mouth, partly open, 
showed a tongue bluish like new flannel. 
I went to the bedside and pressed the arm 
above the wound, as hard as I could, and I 
held it so until the arrival of Dr. Johnson. I 
152 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

had thus succeeded in partially arresting the 
hemorrhage, and possibly may have saved 
young Butler's life. I started to leave as 
soon as the doctor came, and when I arose 
from my knees, I realized for the first time 
that I was covered with blood. The ampu- 
tation could no longer be deferred, and the 
operation took place as soon as the patient's 
strength permitted, which was, I think, two 
days after the hemorrhage. There was then 
barely a chance that he could survive in his 
weak condition. I shall never forget how 
the girls and I sat upon the front steps and 
watched the silent men standing before the 
office, — it seemed as though the suspense 
would never end. After the amputation, 
Butler lay for twenty-four hours like one 
dead. Finally, when he did rally sufficiently 
to be given something, I sent our excellent 
nurse, Caroline, to take care of him, for I 
could not trust him to the ignorant though 
kindly meant attentions of his friends. At 
this time General Galbraith Butler was our 
guest, and, as the Norrises had now left 
for Richmond, I gave him a room in the 
house. He was quite ill there for several 
153 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

days, during which time the house was 
thronged with messengers from the front. 
It gives me pleasure to say that they con- 
ducted themselves like polished gentlemen, 
who appreciated the comforts which they 
received. 

Under Caroline's devoted nursing Nat 
Butler slowly returned to life and to a de- 
gree of strength. When it became evident 
that Raleigh would soon be in possession 
of the enemy, Nat Butler declared that he 
preferred the risk of dying by exposure to 
that of being captured. It was with the 
saddest forebodings that we prepared for 
his departure. The ambulance was made 
comfortable with pillows, blankets, etc., and 
nothing was omitted that could contribute 
to the well-being of the poor sufferer. It 
was a painful parting, as we all knew that 
we were on the eve of horrors that we dared 
not contemplate. The moon shone upon 
the sorrowful little cortege, as it passed 
beneath the trees, and we were too sad for 
tears, as we watched it go slowly out of 
sight. Nat Butler lived, and visited us a 
year later, but his life was a brief one. 
i54 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

We were up late that night, bidding adieu 
to many friends. Indeed, the past few days 
had been days of varied and intense excite- 
ment. People who under ordinary circum- 
stances would have scarcely recognized each 
other as acquaintances now met and parted 
as old and dear friends. Mounted officers 
would come cantering up just for a handshake 
and a God-keep-you. We were admonished 
to take off rings or any little bits of jewelry 
which we might wear. A gentleman sitting 
by me had concealed my watch in my ball 
of knitting cotton. People everywhere were 
wildly seeking places wherein to conceal 
their valuables. We had no reason to imag- 
ine that our house was safer than others, but 
we could not refuse to receive the trunks 
and boxes brought to us in desperation, by 
refugees chiefly, who were leaving town in 
a panic, and going they knew not whither. 
All that we could promise was that they 
should be as well cared for as were our own ; 
and so the garret was packed with all sorts 
of trunks and boxes, many of which were 
not claimed until the next autumn. 

I cannot pretend to give you an idea of 
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PLANTATION SKETCHES 

the excitement and turmoil of that last 
week of the Confederacy. Every minute of 
your grandfather's time was taken up with 
his duties as a state officer, until he, in 
company with Governor Graham and Dr. 
Warren, were despatched by Governor 
Vance to meet Sherman with a flag of 
truce and to surrender the town. He was 
absent upon this mission upon a night that I 
happened to go into the dining-room and 
found several rough-looking men, whom I 
took to be Confederates, seated at supper. 
Robert was waiting upon them, and Ade- 
laide talking, while one of my little children 
was seated cosily upon the knee of a partic- 
ularly dirty-looking man. This did not 
please me, for there was a freedom of manner 
about them which I had never seen in one of 
our men before. Still, I had no suspicion that 
they were not what they seemed, and, be- 
ing called off, I left them, although a cer- 
tain uncomfortable feeling caused me to do 
so unwillingly. Just as I left, a clatter of 
horses' feet was heard outside, and Ade- 
laide (always loquacious), exclaimed, " Here 
comes the General and his staff ! " The 
156 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

words were scarcely uttered before the 
men jumped from their seats and dashed 
from the room. We were afterwards con- 
vinced that they were some of the scum of 
Sherman's army, and while we (myself and 
daughters) were sitting quite unsuspect- 
ingly, they were lurking near us. 

I omitted to mention that, at our urgent 
invitation, our dear friends the Burgwyns 
had come to us, and, in the midst of other 
distractions, I was occupied in disposing 
of their numerous boxes, barrels, and pic- 
tures. There was a universal feeling that 
there would be a degree of safety in num- 
bers, and we could not possibly have en- 
joyed more congenial companionship than 
that of our cousins, the Burgwyns. Upon 
that day we prepared twenty lunches, which 
were most thankfully received. I recollect 
that towards evening some hot tea was 
made for our old friend, Mr. John Robin- 
son. He had been at work all day, shipping 
freight and provisions, and transferring en- 
gines to Greensboro, to which place he was 
now going. He had had nothing to eat, and 
was, as you may imagine, very tired, and so 
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PLANTATION SKETCHES 

hungry that his lunch of cold ham, bread, 
and butter, with many cups of tea, was so 
much enjoyed that in after life he often 
spoke of it with real gratitude. When he 
said good-by, he gave into my keeping a lit- 
tle box of trinkets, requesting me to keep 
them for him, as he had no idea what his 
destination might be. I, of course, said that 
I would try to keep them safely ; and I did, 
returning them just as I had received them, 
some months later. 

Upon that day, our dinner was but a 
meagre one, consisting chiefly of soup, and, 
as the very last of the silver had been hid- 
den out of sight, we were compelled to take 
it from teacups. Upon that night, after the 
stir and bustle of the day had subsided, 
after the last good-by had been uttered, and 
the last horseman had galloped away, a most 
intense stillness followed, which, if possible, 
increased our melancholy, and magnified 
our fearful apprehensions of what was to 
come. 

On the following morning, I saw three 
odd, rough -looking men come galloping 
up from the barn. They were mounted 
158 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

upon mules, were seated far forward upon 
the withers, and had their knees drawn up 
after a most ungainly fashion. I saw at a 
glance that they were not our countrymen. 
They rode furiously into the yard, where 
they halted abruptly. The servants stood 
gaping at them in stupid bewilderment. I 
went forward and asked them the meaning 
of this intrusion. Their reply was an inso- 
lent demand for my keys. Then I knew 
that they were bummers. During the 
whole of this period your grandfather had 
had more than his hands full at his office, 
taking care of and sending off government 
stores, and doing a thousand other things, 
so that all the domestic offices rested with 
me. I told the bummers, with a great show 
of courage, that I had no idea of giving them 
my keys, and as I walked off, feeling quite 
triumphant, I had the mortification of see- 
ing them dismount and swagger to the 
doors of the mealroom, smokehouse, and 
storeroom, slip their miserable, dastardly 
swords into the locks, and open the doors, 
with the most perfect ease. Conscious now 
of my own weakness, I would not conde- 
159 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

scend to parley with them, and watched 
them at their insolent and thievish game, 
until their mules were almost hidden be- 
neath the load of hams, sausages, and other 
plunder. Then they remounted, and dashed 
off at the same furious pace as they had come. 
In a little time after others came and played 
the same game, only adding to their abomi- 
nable thievishness by driving off our mules 
and all our cattle. Our horses, I am glad 
to say, had been sent away. 

It was towards noon upon that fatal day 
that we espied a long blue line crawling 
serpent-like around a distant hill. Silently 
we watched, as it uncoiled itself, ever draw- 
ing nearer and still nearer, until the one 
great reptile developed into many reptiles 
and took the form of men. Men in blue 
tramping everywhere, horsemen careering 
about us with no apparent object, wagons 
crashing through fences as though they 
had been made of paper. The negroes 
stood Hke dumb things, in stupid dismay. 
It was at a later period that their time of 
joy came (in many instances it never came); 
then the only feeling was one of awe. 
1 60 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

In an incredibly short time tents were 
pitched, the flag run up, and the Yankees 
were here. The crowd grew more dense. 
A large column was passing through the 
grove at almost a run, when, to my horror, 
I saw Adelaide and Lizzie, each with one 
of my little girls in her arms, rushing along 
in their midst in a state of such wild excite- 
ment that they had almost lost their reason. 
Almost in despair, I rushed after them, some- 
times seeing them, only to lose them again 
in the moving mass. As I passed a soldier 
I signed to him for help ; I do not think I 
could have spoken. He saw the danger that 
threatened my children, and, overtaking the 
two nurses, took the children and brought 
them to me. The women had meant no 
harm, and did not realize the risk. 

As I before remarked, every one during 
this period of panic entertained an idea 
that he must commit his valuables to the 
keeping of some one else; for instance, 
my sister gave her set of pearls to her maid 
Sally for safe keeping, and Sally, in her turn, 
brought them to Caroline (her mother). 
Caroline, not knowing a safe place of con- 
i6i 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

cealment, lifted a stone from her hearth, 
placed the casket in the cavity, and replaced 
the stone ; this, however, caused the stone 
to fit loosely in the hole from which it had 
been displaced, and Caroline, in her fear 
lest this should lead to the discovery of the 
pearls, sat all night with her feet resting 
upon it. She came to me in the morning, 
looking perfectly haggard, and told me that 
she had never before passed through such 
a night of horror, for her house had been 
crowded with Federals, prying into every 
corner and taking whatever they fancied. 
With my sister's casket, she handed me a 
red cotton handkerchief tied up and full of 
silver coins, belonging to herself and her 
husband. She had no place in which to 
keep it, and asked me to take care of it. I, 
of course, took charge of it and kept it for 
her until the last bluecoat had left the 
place, which was not until August; for, 
after the departure of the army, a regiment 
was left in our grove. 

One day General Logan came to the 
door and said that he had reason to believe 
that a Confederate officer was concealed in 
162 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

the house, and, if I kept his presence a 
secret, he threatened me with the conse- 
quences. The Federals, while searching for 
buried treasure, had discovered the ampu- 
tated arm of poor young Butler, and had 
jumped to the conclusion that he was con- 
cealed in the house. At all events, it served 
as a plea for them to claim that he was 
there. When I assured him that this rumor 
was quite false, his manner was so utterly 
incredulous that I requested him to satisfy 
himself of the truth of my assertion by mak- 
ing a search of the entire house and out- 
buildings. I entreated him to do this, for 
his threats had so alarmed me that I felt 
that in that alone lay our preservation. His 
reply, with an insolent, jeering laugh, was : 
" I will not take that trouble, for my boys 
will settle that question." 

The safeguards stationed both at the 
back and front protected the house. For, 
whatever might have been their feelings, 
they dared not relax in their vigilance. 
The discipline in that army was perfect. 

Not long after the above-mentioned in- 
terview with Logan, we were told (by a 
163 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

servant, I think), that the whole division 
was going to leave that night. This was 
true. It was before the articles of the sur- 
render had been signed, and Logan was in 
pursuit of General Johnston. It was a night 
of such commotion that not one of the fam- 
ily retired to rest. It was discovered, when 
too late for redress, that Logan had with- 
drawn our safeguards, taken every com- 
manding officer with him, and had left us 
to the mercy of his wagon train of bum- 
mers and of negroes. That night of terror 
terminated in a violent storm, in the midst 
of which your grandfather set out for the 
headquarters in town for the purpose of de- 
manding a safeguard. With daylight came 
a greater feeling of safety, so we separated, 
the girls going to their rooms, and I to mine, 
in order to refresh ourselves and make a 
fresh toilet. While so engaged, I kept hear- 
ing the bells ringing and tinkling inces- 
santly, and, while I was hurrying to put on 
my dress in order to inquire the meaning of 
this, Caroline and Adelaide rushed in, ex- 
claiming that men were climbing the walls 
of the house, and the tinkling of the bells 
164 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

was caused by their twisting them off the 
wires. These women, whose natural color 
was bright mulatto, now looked ashy. I do 
not think that I spoke a word, but just flew 
into the nursery, took the children, and ran 
up the stairs. As I passed by the sitting- 
room, I met Kate, all disheveled, running 
out and saying that men were climbing 
into her window. I just took time to lock 
the door between her room and the sitting- 
room, and then we all ran upstairs, where the 
Burgwyns and my other girls were quietly 
dressing, in entire ignorance of what was 
taking place. It seems strange that I should 
recollect every trifle so vividly ; I remember, 
even now, that, as I ran up the stair, my 
throat and mouth became so dry that I 
could not speak. From the window at the 
head of the stair nothing was visible but a 
sea of upturned faces ; not just by the house, 
but away down the slope, as far as the eye 
could reach, were men's upturned faces. 
I can never forget the look upon Mrs. 
Burgwyn's face as she whispered, " We 
can throw ourselves from the window." 
My poor, craven heart might have failed 
165 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

me, but I am convinced that she could have 
done it. While we thus stood, a poor, cow- 
ering, terror-stricken group, steps were 
heard approaching, and a tall figure slowly 
ascended the stairs, and a grim, saturnine- 
faced man stood before us, and said, " I 
don't know that I can save you, but for the 
sake of my mother and sisters I will do all 
that I can do." I do not remember whether 
any one made a reply or not, I only recol- 
lect that he went as deliberately as he had 
come. When your grandfather returned, 
having with difficulty succeeded in procur- 
ing the permit for a safeguard, the mob 
had begun to disperse. Our deliverer was 
a man named Fort. He was division quar- 
termaster, and had been left in charge of 
the wagon trains. He was from one of the 
Western States, Iowa, I believe. He was 
a good man, and was God's instrument to 
save us from destruction. He remained 
near the house all through the day, and at 
first said that he would sleep that night in- 
side the dwelling, but afterwards told your 
grandfather that, upon further considera- 
tion, he thought it best that he should stay 
i66 



WAR REMINISCENCES 

outside, so his tent was pitched close to the 
house, and there he remained until his com- 
mand left. He was forbidding in manner, 
and would accept no thanks. I think that 
he hated us as Southerners, but acted from 
humanity. 

Mr. Burgwyn was suffering from an apo- 
plectic stroke, and was lying insensible. My 
son had not returned from Appomattox. 
Had any man been with us, he would have 
been utterly helpless, and would probably 
have been murdered. 

One day, either immediately preceding 
or following the incident just related, our 
ever-faithful man, Frank, stealthily entered 
the house. He was evidently afraid of being 
observed, for he slipped in, and, closing the 
door after him, asked to speak a word to 
his master. When your grandfather came, 
Frank almost whispered his communica- 
tion, as though afraid of being overheard. 
" Master," he said, " I come to ask you, 
please, sir, don't go out of the house to- 
day ; " he would not say why he gave this 
warning, and it was not until afterwards 
that we found that the Federals had in- 
167 



PLANTATION SKETCHES 

tended to hang your grandfather up until 
he told them where our silver was hidden. 
I rejoice to say that they did not get one 
piece of it, although a part of it was buried 
in the branch that runs at the foot of the 
grove, and, in digging out a place for water- 
ing their horses, they had actually thrown 
the sand upon the box, thus burying it 
deeper. 

I could relate many other incidents of 
this period, some of them rather amusing ; 
but it is time to bring my reminiscences to 
a close. But before doing so, I must say a 
word about our last safeguard, Monhagan. 
He was Irish, and possessed all of the best 
attributes of the Irish character. After the 
departure of Logan's division, with the rest 
of Sherman's army, this man was deputed 
to guard the place, as a regiment was still 
quartered in the grove. He stayed until 
August, and, besides faithfully discharging 
his duties, he exerted himself in other and 
various ways to ameliorate the inconve- 
niences to which we were subjected. Our 
servants, lounging in idleness, contented 
themselves with professions as idle. Frank, 
i68 



WAR REMINISCENCES 
acting upon his master's advice, had taken 
his family to the plantation. Adelaide was 
ill the greater part of the summer with 
brain fever. Monhagan worked the gar- 
den, gathered fruit and vegetables, and per- 
formed many other services. I felt a little 
amused when he one day brought me all 
his money and asked me to take care of it 
for him. At first I positively refused to 
take upon myself this responsibility, but 
yielded at last, and made him count it, and 
kept it as long as he remained. Every Sat- 
urday afternoon he would come and ask 
me to let him have one dollar and allow 
him to go to town for a little while. He 
left with the regiment in August, and he 
wrote once to your uncle Tom from New 
York, but omitted to give his address, 
which we regretted, as we would have liked 
to have him as a gardener. 



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